Rock N’ Roll, or Rock music is a blanket term for music created in the late 1940’s and evolving to the late 1960’s (usually defined by an heavy guitar being featured and accompanied by a electric bass, and heavy drum beats) that almost primarily drew its influence from genres that expressed African American plight such as
Rhythm and Blues, like Ray Charles BBKing Black Domino and Sam Cooke
Gospel, Clara Ward, The Caravans, and Mississippi Mass Choir
and Jazz Myles Davis, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington.
White artists during this time were not punished, if not encouraged to steal music from unknown black musicians justifying it as inspiration while also denying black musicians the ability to gain full recognition for their work.
Punk, Pop, Post-Punk, Hardcore, Metal, etc are genres of music that are underrepresented in the POC community. However this trend in the music industry still carries over today where you can clearly see a lack of black presence in rock and alternative music styles.
Rock and Punk music has continued to preservere throughout the ages, but it has also managed to exclude the black musicians who have helped to make it what it is.
Although seemingly antithetical, Punk rock and the black community are intertwined.
Innovations in marketing strategies and platforms have made it so much easier for Black Rock/Punk entities to make their voices heard. Myspace, Limewire, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat just to name a few have all been used, to not only create new ways to communicate with existing fans but to grow a fanbase exponentially.
The fundamentals of what it means to be punk rock and what it means to be an alternative or activist person of color is similar in that it takes “guts” and "courage" to chose to go “against the grain” and question the society you live.
There is not nearly enough exposure or recognition for African American people in the rock and punk music industry even though black people have consistently been involved in its growth.
On top of this lack of exposure, the black community has been stigmatized to believe that rock music is not a part of its culture and marketers are no exception to this belief.
The punk scene is obviously white washed and consisting of mostly white artists within very white communities. Comprised of mostly white and asian audiences between the ages of 12-35 punk rock is a sub genre In Afro Punk’s film many black punk artists can be quoted saying that they grew up in predominately white environments.
“Millennials are often characterized as…being disengaged civically and politically, and being materialistic. Despite these negative characteristics, a decade of research concerning millennials has also shown that persons in this category are more likely to be open-minded to perspectives other than their own, upbeat, liberal, technologically savvy, sophisticated, confident, self-expressive, concerned with reproductive rights and health, and supportive of comprehensive sex education and equal rights for minorities and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. This dichotomy suggests, according to scholars, that there is more to the millennial generation than some may think.”
An article in Forbes Magazine, quoting Jeffery Bowman, from his book “Reframe: The Brand: The Total Market Approach to Reaching the New Majority” boasted that:
“The innovation and trend here is that years ago, it would’ve been about celebrating our culture and heritage within our cultural group. That’s the beauty of cross-culturalism: You’re not only able to celebrate your culture within your group, but across multiple cultures. Initially, it was hard for brands to get their arms around Afropunk because they were still thinking mono (white, the old “general” market) or multi (non-white cultures, but separate). These days, cross culturalism plays very well in the minds of millennials.”
Multicultural marketing is very important to marketing as a whole because millennials are hyper connected and exposed to each other. The blending of the African American culture celebrating blackness, and the rock and punk culture celebrating rebellion, and revolution stands for something bigger than just a new trend or festival. The idea that we have more in common than we think.
This is why music and arts managers are skeptical to book or hire black bands/artists even still. Its hard to find proper representation for black rock musicians because no labels feel like they could get their return back from a audience so niche.
The common misconception that POC only fit into their racial stereotypes not only hinders music organizations from broadening their audience, but also hinders the audience from being able to access music that they might have an interest in and not have access to. Especially now that todays millennials are so hyperconnected and seem to lean more towards wanting a more equal and racism free society.
Three companies in my opinion have had the audacity to do just that
They each implement ground- breaking multi-cultural marketing tactics that can be taken into consideration for branding other arts organizations in the future.
The emergence of Black Rock Coalition, AfroPunk, Black Lives Matter and Odd Future have shown the world, that appealing to, and uplifting the black community is something that people from all walks of life can relate to
Black Lives Matter is a Non Profits organization that is dedicated to ideological and political intervention in a world where black lives and culture is intentionally and systematically targeted for demise.
Co-founded by three black politicians named Alicia Garza, Patrisee Cullors, and Opal Tometi
BLM was formed during the summer of 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. It was started as a hashtag.
The Democracy Alliance has recently joined forces with BLM to persuade donors to “use some of the money that’s going into the presidential races for grass-roots organizing and movement building".
I selected BLM because it did something revolutionary as a grass-roots new age movement for millennials by grabbing our attention and keeping us active and connected.
The issues facing BLM now are issues that if resolved, can inform similar orgs how to handle themselves moving forward.
They have also implemented successful tactics in spreading their message across multiple cultural groups. People from every race have gotten on board.
Odd Future is a musical collective that was originally formed by Tyler, The Creator with Hodgy, Left Brain, Matt Martians, Pyramid Vritra, Jasper Dolphin, and Casey Veggies. Members that were included later are Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, Domo Genesis, Mike G, Na'kel, Syd Tha Kyd in Los Angeles CA. Tyler The Creator is a rapper and producer who's music has been described as dark, nihilistic, and punk.
I selected Odd Future because it is a great example of how one man's rebellion against stereotypes in the black community, can inspire others to do the same. OF has inspired skaters and music lovers of all types to stop looking at their differences and start creating.
From a marketers perspective OF is exactly what multi-cultural marketing should be. Who would have thought that a black man would be the new face of the skateboarding industry?
Black Rock Coalition
Many of these members were key players in the formation centered on the band Living Colour to start with.
The Black Rock Coalition was created to band black rockers together in the music world because of racial discrimination in the music industry.
The BRC was founded in 1985 in New York City by Vernon Reid (guitarist for the rock band band Living Colour), Greg Tate (journalist for the Village Voice), Dk Dyson (lead singer of Eye & I), and Konda Mason (producer) but today has members from around the world.
Black Rock Coalition exemplifies what it means to be a cutting edge non- profit organization. they have successfully embodied what it means to have successful multi-cultural marketing.
BRC demands respect for artists of color in the rock music industry by making POC a priority in band structure and gained notoriety without alienating anyone.
They are a great example of how focusing on black rights especially black rights in the realm of the arts benefits not only African American, but everyone who is a fan of music.
They have been up and running for 30 years, yet now with the the creation of Black Lives Matter and civil unrest in America, new life keeps being breathed into the organization as it collaborated with other like minded organizations to create one huge movement for change.
This 2003 documentary, turned global music festival has taken the world by storm with their incentive to promote pro blackness and black artists within the punk and alternative communities by the hand of a filmmaker named James Spooner. Now in its 12th year, Afro Punk’s digital and social channels reach over 14 million young people worldwide weekly, who can relate to either being of color and alternative, and/ or being part of a rebellion or punk movement.
AP advertises themselves as a festival of blackness that everyone can participate in.
This is the same strategy that they use to market themselves and why they are so successful.
Hopefully the more that this idea is accepted, the more you can expect to see integrated marketing and advertising for organizations.
Thus resulting in larger and more diverse audiences and black musicians rocking stages everywhere.