Spotify has announced it will celebrate Juneteenth and Black Music Month by featuring black artists only in this Friday’s (June 19) edition of its flagship playlist, ‘New Music Friday’.
The weekly playlist is one of the most streamed on the platform with over 3.5 million followers. It updates every Friday at midnight EST/Thursday 9pm PST.
In addition, Spotify’s ‘New Music Friday’ billboards in Times Square will be dedicated solely to black artists on June 19. The date is also known as Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the US.
“Black artists have defined and inspired music for generations across all genres, from Hip Hop, R&B & Soul, Pop, Rock, Country and far more,” Spotify said in a statement. “Spotify’s team of curators encourage music fans to discover, celebrate and elevate the creative contributions of black artists on June 19th, throughout Black Music Month, and always.”
The all-black artist takeover will remain active on ‘New Music Friday’ through June 26 and will feature music across various genres.
The initiative saw a music industry-wide movement to “disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” for 24 hours, held as “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change” following the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests for racial equality.
Spotify’s playlist jumped from 45,000 subscribers to 450,000 within two days following the initiative.
Meanwhile, an open letter signed by music industry executives and addressed to record label heads has made a number of requests in order to combat racism in the industry, including stopping the use of the word ‘urban’ to describe and categorise music.
The letter, dated June 9, is signed by the Black Music Coalition, The Show Must Be Paused UK, as well as staff from Warner, Universal, Atlantic, Columbia, Sony and Ministry of Sound, among others. It comes shortly after a slew of Black Lives Matter protests worldwide against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
The letter references the music industry blackout which took place on June 2 in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. NME participated in the blackout. Now, the signatories are asking labels to commit to more action.