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Universal Music Group plans to Social Justice Task Force After George Floyd Protests

Following the nationwide protests over George Floyd’s death, leading music company Universal Music Group (UMG) will be launching its own task force to oversee social justice initiatives, Variety reported Sunday, May 31.

The massive Universal Music Group’s task force follows its member labels’ earlier statement that they will not be releasing new music and conducting any business in the week starting June 1st. Interscope Geffen A&M Records (IGA), the trio of music labels, have taken to Instagram to announce their participation in the upcoming “Black Out Tuesday,” describing it as “a day of reflection and meaningful action.

UMG member Capitol Music Group, through its flagship label Capitol Records, also announced support with the Black Lives Matter movement. The label group will refrain from any form of business on June 2nd, and have donated to Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy group.

In the report from Variety, UMG chairman Lucian Grainge issued a group-wide memo, to include members Republic, Def Jam, and UMG Nashville aside from Capitol and IGA. The memo lays out prospects for a task force that will “accelerate our efforts in areas such as inclusion and social justice.” The planned team will be headed by Jeff Harleston, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs for UMG.

The memo details that Harleston will be convening “a group of qualified executives” across the company to review programs and identify gaps. The team is also set to propose initiatives and update the company’s plans.

“The news this past week has been horrendous.  There is simply no other way to put it,” the memo began. Grainge also noted that resources are available for their colleagues traumatized by recent events, including professional counseling. He then referred to George Floyd’s death, before clarifying that “no matter how shocked or saddened or infuriated we may be, we cannot just despair.  We must act.”

Lucian Grainge also clarified the company’s stand: it strongly supports “Black Out Tuesday” together with other non-violent protests. He also added that all labels under the UMG umbrella and other affiliate companies have been granted freedom to address the issue “in its own unique voice.”

Universal Music Group’s task force will leave no stone unturned, noting: “raising out voices in Congress, providing additional employee education and assistance, enhancing our philanthropy, using the power of our astonishingly vast catalog to effect change – everything will be on the table.”

Following George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, public outrage have dominated both the Internet and the streets, with artists from UMG’s numerous record labels voicing their frustration and condemnation at the act that killed the 46-year-old man.

Taylor Swift, signed with UMG label Republic Records, has broken her career-long silence in political matters and publicly denounced President Trump via Twitter after the POTUS wrote in a now-hidden tweet: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Eminem, whose own Shady Records is also under the UMG umbrella, has recently encouraged people to “Speak Up” on Twitter, and linked it to “Untouchable,” his 2017 single where Slim Shady unapologetically describes the institutional racism in the US.

 

by Mark Alvin

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