June 23, 2020 I MI Publisher I by Frank Alkyer

It’s Time for Change

While the cover of this month’s Music Inc. chronicles the plight of our industry during the coronavirus pandemic, another issue has forced the world, and our industry, to choose where we stand.

The killing of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer drove protestors into the streets across the nation and around the globe. For two weeks and counting at press time, demonstrations had been happening in cities large and small.

Most were peaceful, but some turned violent, ending in looting of retail stores, including several in our industry.

Santa Monica Music Center in California had just reopened from the coronavirus shutdown when looters broke in during an early June protest.

“It’s like watching someone break into your home with your children inside,” Lana Fernandez Negrete told NBC 4 News in Los Angeles. Fernandez Negrete owns the store with her father Chico Fernandez.

“We’re family-owned, minority-owned,” she said. “I stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. And, I actually serve kids through music who are suffering the things people are protesting about.”

YouTube videos of Steve’s Music Store in Montreal, Canada, are hard to watch for lovers of a great music shop. After smashing out windows, looters grabbed guitars, keyboards and anything they could shove through the broken glass.

When interviewed for Canadian television’s CTV, Lenny Lanteigne, a long-time manager at the store, said the protest was a “noble cause” but “a few hooligans” were taking advantage.

“I think if you see the clip of Mr. Floyd being executed, for lack of a better word, and you’re not moved by that — if you weren’t aware that this was going on before, or you were oblivious to it — you can no longer just turn a blind eye to it,” he said. “Something’s got to change. These things can’t happen anymore.”

A wide variety of companies have come to the forefront offering their own statements of standing with the black community against racism, inequality and hate, including Roland, Yamaha, Fender and Gibson, to name a few.

Guitar Center put out its statement shortly after its Emeryville location, near San Francisco, was looted. On June 10, the company also ended its relationship with Fulltone Musical Products after Michael Fuller, the founder of the guitar and effects company, made highly insensitive comments about protests and looting. The next day, Reverb followed suit.

The bottom line? Words have meaning. We need to choose them carefully.

But actions have more meaning. Watching protests from coast to coast should be a cause of inspiration, and a call for change. Minorities and women in our industry are under-represented. And we all know it.

Do we hear their voices this time? Will we do something about it?

I hope so. MI

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