On Blackout Tuesday & #TheShowMustBePaused

I am not attacking anyone personally, I love you all, but this music industry shutdown thing feels tone deaf to me. Let’s all participate in our actual world RN. don’t call ourselves the gatekeepers of culture either. Please

—2-time Grammy winning artist, Bon Iver

Before we begin here, even though it shouldn’t need to be said, but it’s important to emphasize, the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th was an absolute abomination, and a blemish on the history of the United States that will never be removed, and shouldn’t be. Everyone should feel embarrassed and appalled that such an incident took place, and even though the rioting, the damage of private property, and in certain instances, the injury and murder of innocent individuals in response is totally unjustified, the anger at the situation definitely isn’t. Furthermore, the continued instances of police brutality and overreach affecting all American citizens, but especially minorities and African Americans, needs to stop. And hopefully if anything good comes from the chaos of the past few days, it will be a renewed attention and addressing of these issues.

However, this idea to pause the entire music industry on Tuesday, June 2nd called Blackout Tuesday—and the calls by some to pause business for an entire week—can and possibly will be directly damaging to many independent artists, and independent music businesses at a time of already unprecedented pressure due to the extended COVID-19 shutdown, and now the looting and rioting that at times has disrupted business or specifically damaged music venues and storefronts.

The show has already been “paused” for 12 weeks and counting so the hashtag is insulting. But now is def a good time to talk about why there are so few black agents, managers, talent buyers, etc. #TheShowMustBePaused

Sonia Grover of Minneapolis music venue First Avenue

This well-intentioned, but poorly thought-out and somewhat misguided movement primarily promoted initially by major labels, can and will directly adversely affect independent music artists and music businesses, especially artists who are releasing new music this week, while these major labels are exploiting the moment as a marketing boon, stamping their branding on statements, while doing little of substance to address the underlying issues.

[It is an] ignorant and misguided way [to protest]. Everyone at their fucking offices should clear out anonymously, not as a promotional effort, not with your Sony logo at the bottom of it; get in the streets. I’m in the streets; most of my artists are in the streets. Anyone who can should anonymously be joining the movement. There’s a massive movement going on in the country right now. Why are they starting their own branded movement?

Joe Steinhardt, owner of Don Giovanni Records and a teacher at Drexel University

For this reason, Saving Country Music has chosen to not actively participate in the event. However with respect to the organizers of the event and the memory of George Floyd and all the individuals who have died needlessly in the past, this website will keep things light and only report on things deemed imperative or essential, which there is ample amounts of with so much unrest at the moment affecting the music industry, and independent artists and venues specifically.

Please don’t take this as a criticism of anyone who does choose to participate. If taking Tuesday off to reflect is what an individual or business feels is the best way for them to face the current crisis, then they should do so free of judgement, and with whatever latitude they feel they need to be afforded by the public or their superiors. However mandating this day off from an effort of peer pressure, and in a way where you risk being labeled racist if you don’t participate, is misguided. Music businesses that feel they need to be at partial or full operation on Tuesday to fulfill obligations should do so free of guilt.

I’m sorry to break ranks with the entire industry but this #TheShowMustBePaused thing tomorrow reeks of another token easy fix hashtag to feign support for a life or death issue. So, I won’t be silently reflecting “in solidarity”. I’ll be screaming. Tomorrow and every day.

American songwriter B.C. Camplight

Frankly, now feels like the time that the music industry, artists, media outlets, blogs, podcasters, DJs, labels, and behind-the-scenes personnel should be leaning on the accelerator, not tapping the brakes for any interval, utilizing music as a tool of healing, of unification, of escape, and a vehicle for broadening perspectives due to the unique role of music as a universal language.

For artists who are releasing new music the first week of June, every day will be a critical moment that could make or break their important project, and their career by proxy. That is why it has been more important than ever to focus on these releases during COVID-19. Now that the news cycle is even more tied up with riot news and political rancor, it’s even more imperative sleeves are rolled up, and action is taken. Don’t let artists and their expressions be yet another casualty of this unprecedented time. And no, this isn’t just about commerce and Capitalism. Of course lives are more important than money. But livelihoods are important too, and so is music to the sanity and well-being of the population.

I want to thank the organizers of the #The ShowMustBePaused campaign for giving individuals and entities in the music industry the opportunity to take a day if they feel it is needed to reflect on how they view race in America, and how that affects their daily actions. But ultimately, action is what is needed, not only to save America from the current strife we are experiencing, but to save the music industry, especially the small businesses and independent operations that after COVID-19 are often hanging on by a shoestring.

And as for the major labels who are calling themselves the “gatekeepers of the culture” with their Blackout Tuesday proclamations (as Bon Iver mentioned above), please don’t be so presumptuous, and arrogant. It’s not the number crunchers at major labels that “gatekeep” the culture. If it’s anybody, it’s the artists, the fans, the side players, the sound guys, and the folks in the trenches of grassroots festivals and local venues that are on the front line of a crisis situation in their industry working collectively that unfortunately can’t afford a day off. They’re working double time just to survive. But they do it with alacrity and love because they understand inherently that music can solve problems and be an agent for change where everything else fails.

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Country/Roots Releases This Week (June 5th):

Sarah Jarosz – World on the Ground
John Baumann – Country Shade
Hellbound Glory – Pure Scum
Jerry Castle – Midnight Testaments
The Harmed Brothers – Across The Waves
Paisley Fields – Electric Park Ballroom