Music industry hits pause to reflect as U.S. protests rage


  • World
  • Monday, 01 Jun 2020

Protesters laying on the ground chant "I can't breathe" at a rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. May 31, 2020. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

(Reuters) - Leading record labels will mark "Black Out Tuesday" this week, suspending business and working with communities to fight racial inequality after protests erupted in the United States following the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody.

Several top artists have also spoken out in response to the death and subsequent demonstrations, some of which have turned violent.

"We stand with the black community," Universal Music, part of Vivendi, said on its Twitter account, which featured the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused.

"The music business at WMG will not go on as usual," Warner Records wrote on its account, referring to Warner Music Group. It said it would contribute to Black Lives Matter and other groups fighting "racial injustice".

Sony Music made a similar announcement, while Interscope Geffen A&M, part of the Universal stable, said it would release no new music this week.

In a memo to staff over the weekend, Universal CEO Lucian Grainge said the company was setting up a task force to work on improving its performance on inclusion and social justice.

"This week, yet again we saw our society's most painful realities about race, justice and inequality brought — cruelly and brutally — into the harsh light of day," he wrote in the note, seen by Reuters.

National Guard troops were deployed in 15 states and Washington, D.C. in an attempt to quell a sixth night of violence on Sunday.

The protests were sparked by video footage showing a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of Floyd, 46, for nearly nine minutes before he died on May 25.

Beyonce posted a video on Instagram in which she called for justive for Floyd.

"We're broken and we're disgusted ... I am not only speaking to people of colour. If you are white, black, brown or anything in between I am sure you feel (left) hopeless by the racism going on in America right now."

Several leading artists joined the protests over the weekend, including Ariana Grande.

"Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart!", Rihanna, a singer-songwriter originally from Barbados, wrote on Instagram.

(Reporting by Mike Davidson and Mike Collett-White; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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