US music industry hits pause button to protest police brutality

NEW YORK: Major music industry labels halted business yesterday, in solidarity with anti-racist demonstrators demanding structural social change and an end to police brutality in the United States.

Atlantic Records, Capitol Music Group, Warner Records, Sony Music and Def Jam were among the many organisations marking "Black Out Tuesday" by vowing that #TheShowMustBePaused, as mass protests have rocked US streets for days following the May 25 killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

"It's hard to know what to say because I've been dealing with racism my entire life. That said, it's rearing its ugly head right now & by God it's time to deal with it once & for all," the legendary producer Quincy Jones said in a statement.

"As gatekeepers of the culture, it's our responsibility to not only come together to celebrate the wins, but also hold each up during a loss."

Columbia Records emphasised that Tuesday "is not a day off" but rather a moment to "figure out ways to move forward in solidarity... Perhaps with the music off, we can truly listen."

Many labels also committed donations to civil rights advocacy organisations.

Largely peaceful marches nationwide repeatedly turned violent, as police used tear gas, pepper spray and flash bang grenades to control crowds amid outbreaks of looting.


Celebrities including Rihanna, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Billie Eilish and Killer Mike have voiced anger and solidarity while actor Jamie Foxx and pop superstar Ariana Grande joined advocacy marches.

Actor John Cusack, who joined protests in Chicago, tweeted that police had hit him with a baton as he attempted to film a burning car.

"For the last few days, the magnitude of devastation, anger, sadness I've felt has been overwhelming to say the least! Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart!" said Rihanna on Instagram.

Beyonce posted a video saying "we all witnessed his murder in broad daylight... We're broken and we're disgusted. We cannot normalise this pain."

She urged signatures to a petition demanding #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd, which the platform said became the largest in its history.

Beyonce's husband Jay-Z said via his company Roc Nation that he had spoken with Minnesota governor Tim Walz and applauded the appointment of the state's attorney general Keith Ellison to handle prosecutions in the Floyd case. - AFP/REUTERS