At almost every moment in black history, you will find music at the center of it. Of mahalia jackson at NWA at mickey guyton, Black musicians have contributed so much to what we call life. After all they gave us, why not give back?
When it comes to showing your love to the black music community, your next step can be something simple, yet consistent.
The music industry has rightly changed course by encouraging others to support black music and the artists who are making the world sing. Important events like #TheShowMustBePaused and its impact on the music community are just the beginning – where you, your mom, and your cousin too can help black record companies and their musicians during Black History Month and throughout the year. .
Take a look at some impactful ways to contribute below.
Where to stream their music
There are many ways to digest music these days. All sorts of DSPs promise listeners a mix of experiences, but with royalties still presenting a major problem for artists, streaming their music is a critical part of keeping them active.
While there are plenty of services to choose from, here are a few that champion black music: Deeperan Atlanta-based startup and music discovery app; Stage fright, a black-owned music tech platform that gives independent artists the power to share their music without having to sign a contract; and Polaristhe first black-owned streaming service dedicated to sharing authentic culture and music.
For the enthusiastic audiophile, delving into the catalogs of black-owned record labels like horrible records, mahogany music and Top Dawg Entertainmenthelp advocate for black artists and help the money go straight into their pockets.
How to support live experiences + side hustle
At a time when 360° deals — which entitle record labels to a percentage of revenue from all of an artist’s revenue streams — are plentiful, the bundling has been a game-changer. Artists who have themselves become imaginative entrepreneurs (think Curren$y Bandcamp Bundles Where Nipsey Hussle’s $100 mixtape) paved the way for others to have side projects such as podcasts, Patreons or NFT.
Issa Rae‘s Hoorae Patreon gives members a early access chance to exclusive playlists and editions of her Issa Broadcasting on Apple Music. On the NFT front, community trademarks such as Black NFT Artmanaged by the creative agency Umba Daima and the Database of Black Artistshosts a multitude of musicians, producers and bands.
Post your favorites on social media (and tell your friends to join)
Think of three friends, then think of three black musicians you love who haven’t “hit it big” yet. Share and play their songs that you enjoy and watch the magic happen. Follow dating groups like Black all over to swap MP3s and in Slack or IRL groups, or just have a listening session with your friends and family the next time you’re together.
By talking about new musical discoveries, you’re sharing why you love that music, and your words can help spread the message in their melodies.
How and where to donate, whether to an artist or an organization
Those who wish to financially support change in the music world should also consider places such as the Black Artists Fundthe Women’s Center for Creative WorkWhere Art Hole Collectivean online group that provides a safe space for creatives of color as places to donate your resources.
If you’re looking to help specific artists you love directly, you can always use places like Patreon, CashApp, or Venmo to help keep an artist afloat. (Note: it may be in good taste to ask artists first if it is acceptable to send them funds directly.)
How to book black performers for your next event or live experience
With your local music venues most likely on hiatus or in strict attendance contrast, you can book your favorite or up-and-coming artists using the Black Agent Network and BYBS, which was started by two Hollywood veterans. If you’re a philanthropist, you can donate to one of GoFundMe’s #SaveOurVenues campaigns.
No matter how you choose, you will provide an avenue for many black musicians and record labels stay full-time and keep their livelihoods active.
Subscribe to local music newsletters, podcasts and publications
There is a growing niche market for local and independent musicians who have (or are building) a following for their art. platforms such as Sub-stack and Medium allow musicians and others to share what they’re working on with your subscription dollars. Add some Patterns to donate directly to black musicians you value who want to help create new historic sounds.
Nonprofits you can support
There are advocacy organizations that go back generations that all want to preserve and encourage music made by black artists. An added benefit can be your donations to places such as Music by black composersthat promotes diversity in classical music; The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts; and The National Association of Negro Musicianswho, according to his website, “has been a champion of African and African-American music and musicians” for more than a century.
Read the work of black music and culture journalists
It’s important to listen to black writers, as they are arguably as entrenched in the black music community as the artists themselves. There are plenty of black voices and outlets that you can support with something as simple as the click of a mouse.
Discover the power of prose from people like Mankaprr Conteh, Timhotep Aku, Naima Cochrane, Craig Jenkinsamong many others, to give a boost to the work that is debated around black music and musicians.
Get up, get out and show up for racial justice in your daily life
While February honors the achievements and contributions of black artists, black history is something that happens every day. By showing up at concerts, sharing new discoveries on social media, and streaming music, you add value to those voices and perspectives.
Also show your support outside of the music industry, by calling out racism wherever and whenever you see it. Remember, even the smallest gesture can have the biggest impact – and in return, you can help preserve the art and people who have long contributed to music, culture and beyond.
Dyana Williams explains why Black Music Month isn’t just a celebration, but a call for respect