At some point, everyone who works in the music industry has to face the fact that its not a distant past rooted in racism and economic exploitation. Capitol Records is no exception. The 80-year-old brand’s legacy of black artists includes Nat King Cole, Tina Turner and George Clinton, but its roster has seen few others throughout its history until now.
In 2022, the label launches FN Meka, a digital rapper so offensively detached from the worst stereotypes of how pirates see our culture that it single-handedly backs the clock on equality.
The controversy was first brought up by black music executives and prominent figures in the hip-hop community, and led to a statement from our advocacy group, Industry Blackout, directly to Capitol Records on the matter. type It itself reports that sources say the company is already in the process of terminating the deal – however, we question this because we believe it is our supporter and Affiliates that spark dialogue first.
Furthermore, our sources inside the Capitol are sending the opposite signal. Which brings us back to the root of the problem: Capitol Records’ insincere clichés are simply focused on avoiding public scrutiny rather than making necessary changes to improve the diversity and inclusion ecosystem.
Less than two years ago, Capitol, acquired in 2011 by Universal Music Group along with parent company EMI’s recorded music division for nearly $2 billion, joined most of the music business to show its support for the black community, as George Floyd Public outcry against social justice following the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. For its part, the Capitol hoisted a Black Lives Matter flag on its 150-foot-tall structure in a show of solidarity, joined the Blackout Tuesday choir and announced support for the Black community via social media, and wrote in May 2020, “We see you.”
So how did we get here from there? Well, it’s simple. We never started “there”.
While all parts of the industry have come a long way, unfortunately the more they change, the more they stay the same, and the lack of black executives remains a blind spot in every corner of the music industry.
While there appears to be hope for diversity in the appointment of Tunji Balogun as CEO of Def Jam, Harvey Mason jr. transitioned from interim CEO of the Recording Academy to full-time CEO with Jon Platt as Chairman/CEO of Sony Music Publishing, Capitol’s wheels seem to be turning more slowly. In fact, it wasn’t overlooked when Motown, the record label Berry Gordy founded more than 6 years ago, traded its parent company from Capitol Music Group to UMG, which in its sale to Universal provided the label’s future CEO. Must be black.
Hint: FN Meka Flub. Any involvement by black Capitol executives was conspicuously missing from the much-hyped press release, and while they were indeed few and the pound continued to depreciate, they were there. Our advocacy group spoke in person with several employees of color at the company, who cited similar questions that boiled down to these assertions: “Capitol Records is not a nurturing environment for Black employees”; “Where there are people, ideas There is no diversity”; “The lack of cultural awareness is the culture there.”
In the days leading up to the FN Meka incident, we directly contacted several members of the UMG Meaningful Change Working Group, as well as others with ties to groups formed by similar initiatives, but found that our attempts were shelved, or, in some cases, There is no answer at all. Capitol itself issued a statement to the media, but did not address the shockingly offensive blunder on the company’s social media channels. Nor have they committed to allocating any additional funding to promote their current roster of black artists. (Also wasted: an important opportunity for tags to break ground in the rapidly growing Web3 community.)
To keep things up to date, Industry Blackout has learned, and type It was confirmed that Capitol had parted ways with Ryan Ruden, who served as executive vice president of experiential marketing and business development and is believed to be spearheading the FN Meka deal. This is a start.
What is the point of this column? Does another call for more black employees in 2022 sound like record breaking? A building designed around a stack of LP concepts is currently vacant due to renovations to withstand earthquakes, and this unstable ground has caused cracks in the company’s foundation. Capitol, are you listening?