Alongside protests and conversation, it’s a moment for black artists and labels to make themselves visible to one another – and for allies to amplify their voices and help organize, too.
One of the more prominent efforts is a Google Spreadsheet that’s been circulating, asking artists and black-run labels to identify themselves. The emphasis is very much on independent artists and small labels, and there’s a ton of electronic music. (It’s partly an indication of just how much electronic music has blended into the topography of so many genres.)
There are roughly 1000+ entries in there. It’s tough to know how to navigate it just yet, but it strikes me that a lot of the early efforts of Female Pressure in driving female-identified artists was centered on just having a database. And maybe even the act of self-identifying can itself be an act of solidarity. In any event, it’s worth bookmarking.
Having had a number of private discussions about whether “blackness” applies in Europe as it does in the USA, note the number and significance of Europe-based artists. I don’t think it’s a stand-in for organizing awareness of other minorities, but surely for music lovers, listening should always be a zero-sum game anyway.
that now has a nice new URL – blackbandcamp.info
There’s also a submission process:
Black artists and labels of course if you’d like to offer your own guide or thoughts on the significance of this, I’d be happy to share your messages.
Bandcamp is tracking artists and labels offering donations and other support for black organizing:
It got so long, there’s a second part:
Pitchfork is tracking this, too:
I believe it’s vital to remember and share our outrage about black victims of police violence as fellow humans, first – Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Tony McDade… But there is also a place for any of us working in music journalism to note that George Floyd was also a musician. Pitchfork is reporting on that, too. It should remind us that if we shy away from dealing with the “political” issue here, there is a cost in life in our own musical community:
And as I’ve said before, whether it’s a small indie magazine or a major brand like Pitchfork, we should be equally concerned that we are seeing paid journalism eclipsed. It’s another way in which voices are growing dangerously silent.
So let’s keep listening —
Ashleigh Lauryn has her own thread of labels going today (with some artists in the mix) – check through for the whole thread:
Don’t forget, lest you completely melt your brain and ears, you can always hit ‘follow’ on some of these labels and get notifications of new releases.
I have to, like, do my job and pick out some favorites from Ashleigh’s list – also because I’m so into them. Scott Grooves from Detroit has all manner of goodness, but out today – wow, this release is something really irresistible, from some futuristic and very inhatabitable planet:
Almost impossibly deep and dreamy and out of time, “Dreem Static” by Quaid from London, too – sounds like it would work if you popped it into your cassette Walkman:
Fuzzy-cool, lo-fi techno, like something you could curl up with (really) in exchange for all that concrete, here’s just one example of Berlin’s Uzuri. Watching for their July VA, as it looks promising. Here’s Joey Anderson:
There’s new Moor Mother out, with Olof Melander. Moor Mother has a label. Let’s all follow Moor Mother if we aren’t already. (How was I not subscribed on Bandcamp before, actually?!) Because – obviously, this is one of the most endlessly inventive artists we have around. Hello to Philadelphia, too, I miss you all. This is serious witchcraft, serious science, just released:
Once you hear NYC’s Eric Douglas Porter aka Afrikan Sciences, it’s hard not to get immediately lost in his wonderful experimental groove language – smart, abstract, but flowing. And there’s a new release from 1 May.
Hey, Ashleigh, I just ripped off your Twitter account and … uh … ran up my PayPal. And it was a pleasure. No regrets and no apologies. Nice to have some reminders and some discoveries.
Ashleigh also raises a salient point, and a conversation I hope CDM can help support (technologically or otherwise) – about investing in creating independent platforms and not only existing major platforms:
This obviously does have dimensions beyond just blackness, especially if we’re talking African Americans. Americans have platforms catering to US payment systems, taxation, and other US-centered designs or principles (to say nothing of language localization). In some parts of the world, it’s not really practical to even get paid for releases. (Think Iran, for instance, which now has a major underground electronic scene but effectively no working international banking.) Even here in the EU, there’s the fact that Bandcamp makes VAT reporting really difficult, so this isn’t just a “global south” issue or something like that – it hits Paris and Berlin, even.
There are also concerns about logins, privacy, surveillance, censorship … well, you get it. And there’s a cost for anyone, anywhere, when you use someone else’s platform. There are not-insignificant tradeoffs, too – and plenty of reasons artists are happy with Bandcamp. But I do hope we don’t just default to one platform.
That said, when I have tough problems to think about, I like to listen to music – so downloading away. And for now, Bandcamp lets you connect to artists and labels and lets them remain connected to fans, with portable data.
Don’t be shy, either, would love to hear more additions to this list – today, but really any day. It’s been a week where a lot of people talked about worrying about “promoting” music. I would like to say the opposite – please, let us hear you.