This past week, all sectors of the music industry have reacted to the George Floyd protests, but some ways have been more helpful than others. Two black female executives at major labels founded the #TheShowMustBePaused movement, in which the music industry was compelled to put their usual operations on hold for a day and instead use that time to devise ways to support racial justice. As well-intentioned as this action was, plenty of non-black artists and labels got by with just posting a black square on their social media and patting themselves on the back for it.
Indie label Double Double Whammy compared this action (or lack thereof) to the notoriously tone-deaf viral video of celebrities singing “Imagine” by John Lennon. It’s clear that mere lip service to the concept of racial justice is not enough; both white and POC voices need to use their platform and resources in tangible ways to stop police brutality and cultivate true racial equity. This is especially necessary in the music industry, which has historically exploited the labor of black artists.
This Friday, June 5th, various independent record labels will be donating part or all of their proceeds for that day on Bandcamp to important organizations such as Black Lives Matter and bail funds across the nation. Whether you’re into indie rock, hip-hop, electronic music, or pretty much anything in between, there are plenty of tunes you can pick up on Friday for a good cause. Here are five indie labels that are putting their money where their mouth is.
This experimental hip-hop label is dedicating half of this Friday’s label profits, along with 25% of this week’s total profits, towards Black Lives Matter and various bail funds. This move is admirable but not too surprising, considering that the most popular record released on Deathbomb is the politically-minded noise-rap opus Veteran by JPEGMAFIA. Some other highlights on the Bandcamp catalog include Dos City from Japanese hip-hop trio Dos Monos, and the afro-futurist concept record Splendor & Misery by Clipping. For a lesser-known act on the label, check out L.A. duo They Hate Change and its record Juices Run Clear. The lyrics for the track “Basics” remain sadly relevant: “Proud of all my city, but I need to speak with a senator, now why y’all keep killing my sisters?”
This Brooklyn indie label is donating all of its Friday proceeds to two groups: Movement for Black Lives, an anti-capitalist collective of black organizations, and The Loveland Foundation, which is devoted to making therapy more accessible for black girls and women. If you want to show some Texan pride, pick up Heavy Lifter by Austin slowcore outfit Hovvdy and THX by L.A. via Silsbee folk act Lomelda. R&B duo Gemma pick up the pace with jittery funk jams on its recent debut Feeling’s Not A Tempo.
Father/Daughter is based in San Francisco and Miami, but the label’s planned donations aren’t tied to any particular city. $1 from every item sold on its Bandcamp this Friday will go towards the national organization Black Lives Matter. As if that wasn’t cool enough, you can use the coupon code “DAD20” for 20% off your purchase. Various genre-blurring black artists have called the label their home, including popstar turned lo-fi rocker Shamir and experimental hip-hop musician Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. Fans of Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, and Vagabon will especially dig Swim Team by Austin “dream jazz” songwriter Christelle Bofale.
New York experimental label RVNG Intl. will be donating its portion of proceeds from Friday’s Bandcamp sales towards individual black creators in New York City, as opposed to an organization. On its website, it details that it will work “with black community leaders to identify and reach these individuals”. Two of the best albums you can pick up during this sale are This Is How You Smile and Private Energy by Helado Negro, an Ecuadorian-American songwriter known for hushed folktronica paeans to Latinx community and resilience. “It’s My Brown Skin” is a tender ode to his racial identity, in which he also mentions “There’s friends of similar shades / of different ways / who feel the same way / Don’t ever forget them “. By putting concrete charitable action next to its messages of support for the black community, RVNG Intl. is taking that advice to heart.
Surreal times call for surreal music, and fortunately for adventurous listeners, Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones has plenty of that. 100% of digital sales on Friday will be split between The Loveland Foundation and a “nationwide bail fund that splits donations among community bail funds”. For movie geeks out there, the eerie synth scores of horror auteur John Carpenter are a no-brainer purchase. For much less ominous tunes, check out the earthy Moog bliss of Mother Earth’s Plantasia by Mort Garson. It might not be able to help plants grow, as we’ve discovered, but it will help ease your mind. Also worth checking out is the avant-pop record Mazy Fly by SPELLLING. Our own blog editor gave the album an 8.5 out of 10, which is plenty of reason to give it a listen if you haven’t yet.