It started, as so many stories do today, with a phone call about COVID-19. The devastating effect of the virus was being felt by the music industry. Touring was impossible, and this hit Black and independent promoters with a devastating impact. But it was from these conversations that the Black Promoters Collective was born.
With the murder of George Floyd, and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the BPC recognized the importance of pooling together resources and knowledge to drive change in the music industry. A step that became not just necessary, but essential.
The BPC felt that the shared experience of Black musicians and promoters, their successes and their voices, could no longer be ignored by a biased industry. Troy Brown, Chief Marketing Officer of the BPC said “It’s time for us, as the culture, to buy back the culture. We need to go to these artists and say, ‘Here’s what we can do for you that some of these other big corporate entities can’t.’”
Now, just a little over two years later, the BPC grossed $60 million in their first quarter by putting on some impressive tours. The Collective headed up a 30-city tour for New Edition, called The Culture Tour featuring Charlie Wilson and Jodeci.
Another tour for Maxwell would feature Anthony Hamilton and Joe across 25 cities. Closing up an astounding quarter with a six-day tour featuring the legendary Patti LaBelle.
Off the back of this success, BPC is now promoting a 23-city tour for Mary J. Blige, the Good Morning Gorgeous arena tour. The tour will feature support from Ella Mai and Queen Naija.
The BPC is clearly starting to claim its share of the market. Working collectively, they sought to buy tours. Their collective work and expertise allow them to bid for entire tours, rather than smaller single dates or venues.
Their combined market weight, bringing together expertise from members from Detroit; Atlanta; Houston; Raleigh, N.C.; New York/New Jersey, Oakland and California, allows them to compete on a level playing field with giants like AEG and Live Nation.
History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme. This is not the first time that Black promoters have joined forces to confront the deep systemic white bias of the live music industry.
In 1998, a $700 million lawsuit was filed against multiple promoters and booking agencies by a group calling themselves The Black Promoters Agency. The lawsuit claimed antitrust and civil rights violations, but would be lost in 2005.
By contrast, the BPC continues to make inroads into the live music industry. With a mindset that firmly believes in reclaiming and buying back culture that was theirs in the first place, the BPC uses their Collective economics and business knowledge to their advantage.
The BPC has a mission of inclusion, and they mean it. They seek to work across multiple genres with a range of artists. Sticking to their mission, the BPC has managed to bring an increasing number of Black-owned businesses, as well as people of color, into the live music industry. And not just artists, but everyone from the caterers to the vendor partners. An action that, according to BPC’s Troy Brown, “Doesn’t happen in other, bigger corporate outfits.”
The BPC is making huge strides towards achieving their mission. By making the industry more inclusive, the BPC ensures a world that respects the work of Black promoters and provides artists and fans with options that are not just Live Nation and AEG.
By. Marty Most