This Friday’s ‘Bandcamp day’ benefits more than the artists | Music Feature | Chicago Reader

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This Friday’s ‘Bandcamp day’ benefits more than the artists

Many musicians and labels will donate their cuts to support the fight for Black lives.

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At the end of April, Bandcamp announced that it would waive its revenue share on the first Fridays in May, June, and July to help support the independent labels and artists who use the platform to sell their work. Bandcamp had already done this on March 20, just as COVID-19 cancellations began to disrupt the live-music ecosystem upon which so many artists rely; that day, Bandcamp sales totaled $4.3 million. When "Bandcamp day" returned on Friday, May 1, total sales increased to $7.1 million.

The third Bandcamp day is this Friday, June 5. But since the start of protests decrying the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, many musicians and labels who sell their music through Bandcamp have made pledges to donate this Friday's Bandcamp earnings to Black and Brown community organizations—and Bandcamp's own list of special releases includes dozens of examples.

Similar donations began even before the latest mass uprising against anti-Black policing and white supremacy. A couple weeks ago, for example, local hip-hop label and collective Why? Records released a pay-what-you-want Bandcamp compilation called Art Is Love Vol. 1 to benefit the Chicago Community Bond Fund.

Over the weekend, two Black female music executives, Jamila Thomas (a senior director of marketing for Atlantic) and Brianna Agyemang (a senior campaign manager for A&R company Platoon), launched a campaign called #TheShowMustBePaused to encourage "gatekeepers of the culture" to "disconnect from work and reconnect with the community." The campaign included "Blackout Tuesday" on June 2, which asked industry professionals to refrain from self-promotion and take a stand.

Thomas and Agyemang wanted to start a conversation about how an industry built on exploiting Black labor and creativity could be held accountable for supporting and protecting Black people. But those good intentions were quickly obscured as major labels and music-centric technology companies rolled out confusing and largely toothless messages of support in an attempt to rally around Blackout Tuesday. As the campaign spread beyond the music business, it became a hollow branding exercise on social media—even the San Francisco 49ers, who infamously cut quarterback Colin Kaepernick after he began protesting racial injustice in 2016, tweeted a black square.

On Monday, Bandcamp announced that it would donate 100 percent of its cut on Friday, June 19, to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The site promised to repeat the donation every subsequent Juneteenth, and pledged to spend an additional $30,000 annually to work with racial-justice organizations.

The work of fighting racial inequality will continue long after protesters leave the streets, and Bandcamp's willingness to make an ongoing commitment to marginalized communities is one of many reasons I support the site. As I did last month, I've listed all recent Reader reviews of albums available on Bandcamp. I encourage you not only to find music that's new to you but also to search out artists using their platforms to help community organizations—on Friday and on every day to come.

Big Silky, Big Silky Vol. 1

Black Dahlia Murder, Verminous

Buscabulla, Regresa

Cafe Racer, Shadow Talk

Damacy, Sun Spot EP

Danzig, Danzig Sings Elvis

Dark Fog, Escape Into This and Escape Into This 2

DJ Taye, Pyrot3k

Tashi Dorji & Tyler Damon, To Catch a Bird in a Net of Wind

Steve Earle & the Dukes, Ghosts of West Virginia

Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn, Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn

Kassel Jaeger & Jim O'Rourke, In Cobalt Aura Sleeps

Joshua Virtue, Jackie's House

K-Rad, 127When

Gia Margaret, Mia Gargaret

Melenas, Dias Raros

Mother Nature, Portalz

Nation of Language, Introduction, Presence

No Age, Goons Be Gone

Okkultokrati, La Ilden Lyse

Options, Wind's Gonna Blow

Paradise Lost, Obsidian

Dave Rempis, Joe McPhee, Tomeka Reid, Paal Nilssen-Love, and Brandon Lopez, Of Things Beyond Thule Vol. 2

Retirement Party, Runaway Dog

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, The Mosaic of Transformation

The Soft Pink Truth, Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?

Sonic Boom, All Things Being Equal

Sugar High, Love Addict

TALsounds, Acquiesce

Pam Tillis, Looking for a Feeling

Umbra Vitae, Shadow of Life

Vandermark / Drake / Trovalusci / Ceccarelli, Open Border

Ric Wilson & Terrace Martin, They Call Me Disco

Xibalba, Años en Infierno

Zango the Third, Aunt Ida's Asteroid Mixtape  v

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