What is Blackout Tuesday? Apple, Spotify join music industry’s response to George Floyd’s death

By Michael Grothaus

Listeners of various streaming services today may notice some changes when they open up their apps. Apple Music, for example, has decided to pause parts of its service including replacing the usual For You, Browse, and Radio sections with a “Listen Together” link that takes users to a streaming station filled with the best of black music. Spotify, on the other hand, will add eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence to certain playlists and podcasts.

Both moves are being done to support what is being called Blackout Tuesday, which takes place today, June 2. As Pitchfork explains, the initiative is being held by the music industry in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other black lives by the police.

The initiative is being spearheaded by music industry execs Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang under the banner #TheShowMustBePaused. Writing on the initiative’s website, the pair notes that the multibillion-dollar music industry has predominantly profited from black art, and it’s the industry’s duty to highlight the importance of black lives:

Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable. To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.

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As mentioned above, Apple and Spotify are taking part in Blackout Tuesday today (Spotify’s addition of eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence to certain playlists and podcasts represents the time the police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck), other music companies and labels have announced they’ll be honoring the day in various ways. These companies include Universal Music Group, Warner Music, and Sony.

Event organizer Live Nation and ViacomCBS-owned channels like MTV and VH1 are also planning to go dark.

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