Aluna Francis of the English synthpop, R&B and UK garage duo AlunaGeorge wrote an open letter to the dance music community via Instagram on June 25. In it, Francis claims that Digital Service Providers (DSPs) are neglecting to include black artists in their platforms and playlists and that they “also need to establish a long-term plan to secure a healthy future for dance music that is culturally and racially inclusive.” The letter is gaining support from a growing list of artists including Kygo, DJ Snake, Major Lazer, Diplo, Cedric Gervais, Icona Pop, Gryffin, Hayden James, Dillon Francis, Gorgon City, A-Trak, Daniel Bedingfield and The Knocks.
Francis says “only the subgenres of EDM or European-style House/Techno are consumed by the masses via DSPs, radio, and mainstream media — any other styles of dance music from African-born artists and producers of the wider African diaspora are left out.” She calls on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube to include the African related dance subgenres of “Gqom, afrobeats, afropop, dancehall, reggaeton, juke, Jersey club, Baltimore club, Philly club, footwork, soflo jook, ballroom/vogue, slowflo, Miami jook, UK funky, UK garage, New Orleans bounce and more under the banner of dance” on their streaming platforms.
View this post on Instagram
When I started looking at all the challenges I face being a black woman making dance I realized I wanted to do more than just create a space for myself – I want all black people to know that the genre of Dance is their heritage and they should feel included and encouraged to create under that banner by expanding the genre to be culturally and racially inclusive Read and share this post if you wanna see the same future for our community
She continues “Additionally, the top performing songs of these sub-genres should feed into the marquee dance playlists at each platform. Some DSPs have editorial playlists for afrobeats, afropop, dancehall, and reggaeton genres, however, most of these playlists are not prominently placed within DSP platforms, and these styles of music aren’t given opportunities to grow within the dance genre. They’re treated like an isolated genre.”
Francis stated “As a member of the Black Music Action Coalition and a Black woman in dance music, I need to challenge the ‘dance music industry’”. Earlier this month, mxdwn reported that Francis delayed the June release of her single “Warrior” in order to “focus toward the greater issues at hand” and “using the time to share her experiences as a black woman in music and specifically, as one of the few black voices in dance music.”
Recent calls on the music industry like hers have had some success. Mxdwn also reported earlier this month that BMG announced plans to review historic record contracts for racial inequalities and if management finds any inequalities or anomalies, they will create a plan to address them within 30 days. Other companies are making donations to promote racial equality such as YouTube, who has set up a $100 million fund “dedicated to amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists”.
In a Billboard interview, when asked what she thinks keeps DSPs from “integrating dance music made by Black producers from their marquee playlists?” Francis speculates “it would be because the voice of change has not been loud enough for them to pay attention to. They did not take it upon themselves to address the cultural health of the genre because white producers bring in the fans, the money and they can even bring whatever cultural flavors they wish by appropriation to give dance music a ‘fresh sound.'”
Frances states “Dance music needs to be progressive and move us into the future, especially right now, as we have globally united in the fight to end racism.”