Universal Music Group pledges $25 million for a social justice task force
After calls from the Weeknd for major labels and streaming services to donate to organizations involved in social justice and ending racism, Universal Music Group is revealing a $25 million "Change Fund" and a Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC).
According to Rolling Stone who obtained a letter to colleagues from the company, several executives are addressing six areas of focus and immediate steps for the task force “to be both a resource and ally to our internal and external community.”
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TFMC co-chairs Jeff Harleston (Executive VP, General Counsel, UMG and Interim Chairman and CEO Def Jam) and Ethiopia Habtemariam (President Motown Records & EVP Capitol Music Group) sent the letter outlining their actions.
In the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, as well as the music industry's #TheShowMustBePaused, Universal Music Group are taking steps to provide resources for social justice.
“The problems we are addressing are not new and they certainly do not have easy solutions, but we are dedicated to fighting for real, lasting change,” they wrote in the letter. “As Lucian [Grainge, Universal Music Group’s Chairman and CEO] wrote, UMG has committed resources and empowered us to create a task force to be both a resource and ally to our internal and external community."
“Task Force for Meaningful Change was created as a driving force for the ongoing fight for equality, justice and inclusion. We are charged with reviewing the company’s commitment to addressing and promoting tolerance, equality, and elimination of bias, within UMG, the music community and the world at large. It is our mission to identify the gaps and deficiencies and to strengthen UMG’s plan with new initiatives,” they continued. “And EVERYTHING is on the table.”
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In their areas of focus, Universal Music Group include aid/charitable giving, global, internal/institutional change, legislative/public policy, partners and programming/curation.
Further in the letter, they outline the first round of grants they are donating to. Those include Black Girl Ventures, Black Lives Matter, Black Mental Health Alliance, Colin Kaepernick Foundation, Color Of Change, Equal Justice Initiative, National Association of Black Journalists, Silence the Shame, Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, The Bail Project, and When We All Vote.
The TFMC says it has already put some initiatives in place. They're hosting town hall meetings with guest speakers for employees and running letter campaigns demanding action from Congress. Further, they're providing funding for racial justice through their All Together Now program. The program includes contribution matching for employees donating to non-profit groups. They're also providing a legal volunteer action center and a voter action center.
“We know our community, colleagues, artists and partners are suffering,” the letter closes with. “We feel it and we’re living it but we’re also energized to fight for change. We’re asking for you to lock arms with us — we want to hear your voice.”
Billboard is providing a full release of the memo sent to staff which you can read here. It is outlining all of the six areas of focus with further details about what they mean.
Earlier this week, Warner Music Group also created a $100 million donation to social justice causes but did not reveal any details at the time about what that means.
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To show support through donations, connect with grassroots campaigns and obtain resources for allies, please refer to the links below.
Help the family of George Floyd here.
Fight for Breonna Taylor here.
Help the family of Ahmaud Arbery here.
To sign petitions for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and more, click here.
Donate to one or more community bail funds for protesters here.
Click here for more resources for protestors including pro-bono lawyers.
Visit Movement For Black Lives for additional ways you can help the cause.
Click here to connect with leaders building grassroots campaigns.
Here are some anti-racism resources for allies who want to learn more.
For other ways to donate, please head here.