Why there can be no return to the old normal for the music business

Why there can be no return to the old normal for the music business

Finally, after 12 long weeks of lockdown, your favourite record shop is probably open again. The reopening of 'non-essential' retail is a welcome sign of normality returning after weeks of lockdown, even if social distancing and Covid-19 safety measures will mean crate-digging won’t be quite the same.

But that’s not the only thing changing in the business. In the two or so weeks since Black Out Tuesday raised vital questions about the lack of racial equality in the music industry, One Little Indian has changed its name to One Little Independent, Lady Antebellum have changed their name and Bristol’s Colston Hall has confirmed it will finally have a new moniker when it reopens in the autumn.

Many organisations, including Republic Records and the Grammys, have taken steps to remove the word ‘urban’ from their lexicon. In line with those and the suggestions issued by the new Black Music Coalition to labels, Music Week’s club chart providers are changing the name of the Urban listing to the Black Music chart.

These are important, albeit often overdue moves for the industry. But cosmetic changes are relatively easy to make. The business will have more complicated systemic decisions to make in the weeks and months ahead. And as veteran artist manager Keith Harris points out, while "pretty much everybody" acknowledges that it's time something was done, "If they don't actually do something positive, things will stay the same".

It’s important the points raised by #TheShowMustBePaused don’t get forgotten as the industry returns to normal

Music Week

So, just as music retailers are hoping their customers still remember their favourite record store after months without access, it’s important the points raised by #TheShowMustBePaused don’t get forgotten as the industry returns.

Music Week itself has a role to play in that, and we also have work to do ourselves. We certainly haven’t always got things right in the past, but we will continue to cover these issues in the future and are genuinely passionate about, and committed to, helping to amplify a more diverse range of industry voices and assisting the industry’s drive for change in any way we can.

As this week’s magazine Big Story on how music companies are responding to Black Out Tuesday shows, many companies are already addressing the issues and donating funds, and it’s heartening to see an industry-wide commitment to change. But, as the Black Music Coalition point out, actions will speak louder than words.

Because, this time, returning to a more usual business must not just mean business as usual.

* To read our reports on the return of music retail and how the music business is ensuring greater diversity, see this week's edition of Music Week, available now, or click here and here. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, sign up to our digital issue by clicking here.

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