Published on June 11th, 2020 | by Jerry Doby0
Billboard Cover Features #TheShowMustBePaused Founders
How Rising Executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas Sparked an Industry Reckoning – And What They Plan to Do Next
Billboard’s Gail Mitchell spoke with #TheShowMustBePaused Founders Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas for what is one of the most important discussions on how the music industry, in fact, the entertainment industry, benefits from the toil of the black entertainer and how they can be brought to do the right thing as regards lending support to movements that demand justice and equality for those under-protected by the justice system. Entitled “The Women Behind #TheShowMustBePaused — And What They’re Planning Next” this feature story lays bare the pain and anguish which sparked a movement ignited over just a few days, but resounded across the globe via social media and the internet. Check out the official line on the movement and the cover story below:
- Rising music executives Brianna Agyemang (Senior Artist Campaign Manager, Apple’s Platoon) and Jamila Thomas (Senior Director of Marketing, Atlantic Records) had been on the phone with each other on Friday, May 29, contemplating taking a day off work to process it all. But they started thinking bigger – much bigger – deciding before they hung up that a day of reflection and conversation was urgent not just for themselves but for the entire music industry.
- Agyemang and Thomas quickly designed a graphic, cobbled together a website, and proceeded to enlist their network of colleagues and friends to spread the word on social media, spurring a flurry of plans both inside the music business and out to observe what some supporters started calling “Black Out Tuesday.”
- The three major record labels – Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group – along with radio stations, artists and streaming giants like Apple Music and Spotify joined the movement.
- Thomas and Agyemang’s call to action suggests that up-and-coming executives like them have more power to change the business than their job titles might imply – and they say they are prepared to keep using it. Now, they are focused on what they call phase two of their efforts and what comes next.
On how the idea for #TheShowMustBePaused came about…
BA: “It was just a really heavy week for the black community. And people still had to work. It didn’t seem like anyone had a chance to really take in what was happening in the middle of coronavirus…It was just a lot while trying to keep the show moving. So I called Jamila that Friday and said we should take the day off, that it’s not business as usual.”
JT: “We started hitting up friends who were asking if they should share this privately or publicly. So we decided as friends to share it publicly, like, ‘What are we hiding for?’”’
On the solid black box people started posting online…
JT: “At some point between Monday night and Tuesday morning, people thought that a plain black box was supposed to be posted with the Black Lives Matter tag. That caused confusion because it was also pushing down vital information for the Black Lives Matter movement. That was never our intent, never part of our directives. The goal was not to mute ourselves.”
On what they covered at the summit they held on Black Out Tuesday…
JT: “Urban artists occupy most of the music charts, and we celebrate the genres at industry events and the Grammys. But when that community takes a hit, it seems like its every man for himself…There’s never a united front….The country is literally in a moment of transition. And music has to be at the forefront of that because of its influence.”
On Republic’s announcement to eliminate the term “urban music”…
BA: “It seems like a great step toward progress…I would just like to know what that means for them as a company and how they see that being defined moving forward. It’s just one word, but it’s a strong word in the music community.”
On the one thing they want the industry to know about #TheShowMustBePaused…
BA: “This was not thought out in advance. It was not a march. It was not a rollout….It was a way for people to release and pause, because in the end we have to fix it and we have to heal as a society. And we can do this by changing the future.”
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