This month, YouTube Music's artist relations manager Sheniece Charway tells the story of her career so far, and discusses what the industry must do to eradicate racism...
How did you land your role at YouTube?
“I joined in March 2019 as the music partnerships coordinator and became a full-time artist relations manager in July 2020, right in the midst of the pandemic. I love my role, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to come into my own with it and invest in artists and projects I’m passionate about.”
Can you sum up how YouTube can help boost Black music in the UK?
“YouTube has an important role to play in propelling the Black British creative economy forward. In June 2020, we set up the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund, a $100 million global commitment to grow Black creators and artists on the platform, which supported the MOBOs, among other UK projects. We have also established the Legacy Series, a year-long calendar of events that celebrates Black culture and raises awareness around Black issues through music and art. The longevity of these initiatives is really important. We want to go beyond celebrating Black excellence for one month a year. We have just launched Say No More, our new flagship playlist for British Black music, bringing together the biggest artists and the next generation of household names across UK rap, grime, drill, R&B and Afropop. YouTube has always been the home of Black music and expression, and we are proud to contribute to the export of some of the UK’s best talent.”
It’s really inspiring to see the industry so galvanised
Tell us about the work you’ve done in this area since you joined…
“In February last year, I helped curate YouTube Music’s first Excellence Brunch, right before the world went into lockdown, which was hosted by Tuma Basa and Lyor Cohen. In December, I organised the first Legacy Series event, Fashion X Music, a project that united the best of Black British fashion and music, featuring Walé Adeyemi, Tiana Major9, Pa Salieu and more. I also curate YouTube Black talks, such as George The Poet’s Black Lives Still Matter show for Black History Month and a gal-dem panel about Black women in music. I’m also an ambassador for PRS Foundation’s vital Power Up campaign, which YouTube Music is a partner of.”
How far has the industry’s fight against racism come in the past year?
“We’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s really inspiring to see the industry so galvanised. It’s no longer enough to be a performative ally. Meaningful institutional change has to come from education and action, and initiatives like the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund, Power Up and the Black Music Coalition are paving the way for sure. Where they lead, others will follow.”
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
“I’d like to be at YouTube, continuing to champion Black voices and creating exciting moments on and off the platform. I would also love to be in a position where I’m able to hire candidates from under-represented backgrounds.”
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