YouTube Music's Brittany Lewis, Mahlet Seyoum Fight for Black Artists

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Entertainment

YouTube Music offers music, but it also provides information about the musicians and their backgrounds, which is more essential.

The platform's goal, according to Tuma Basa, director of Black Music & Culture, was to continue making connections and serving as a sort of institutional memory for the culture in 2021.

Mahlet Seyoum, the lead for global music strategy, and Brittany Lewis, the lead for artist partnerships, have a significant impact on the support of musicians.

Intro to the Music Industry

They both developed a fascination for music during their formative years before deciding to pursue careers as executives. Seyoum grew up in a theater-loving family while Lewis was raised in a home that was completely theater-focused. Each of the two leads has a history of involvement in the industry. Lewis is a result of Lewis's decision to put her pen down after covering musicians for the Global Grind and then providing them with practical assistance in her position at YouTube Music.

Lewis told AfroTech, "I actually truly got to create incredibly deep and immersive relationships with musicians and their teams very early on.”

“Just especially given the moment that we were in at the time, which was the peak blog era where artists were extremely dependent on positive attention," the author continued. “It was crucial for the environment of the artist to be highlighted and covered on those blogs during the release of their albums or music videos, for example. Therefore, regardless of the organization I work for or the type of work I perform, I've kind of just maintained up with those relationships. merely ensuring that I maintain in touch with people and check in on them regularly.”

Seyoum concurs with Lewis that discovering what artists need and assisting them in coming up with creative ways to engage their followers is a significant portion of her responsibility. The teamwork at YouTube Music has been crucial in her contributions to the field throughout her time spent trying to be a part of the industry's progress.

Seyoum remarked, "I work with some of the sharpest people who have a lot of experience, aren't scared to try new ideas, and are kind. In this job, I've learned a ton. I have had the opportunity to learn from veterans who have been playing for 20 to 30 years. individuals from my generation and Gen Z. The younger people who are currently working here are putting us on such a high level of competition and educating us so much about how society is evolving and how people are utilizing social media and music today. Considering how quickly the music industry is evolving, every day feels like a crash course.”

Putting Art On The Front Line

Lewis co-leads the project known as the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund, which embodies one of YouTube Music's fundamental values: showing up and showing out for musicians. The class has access to a global group of musicians including authors, producers, and artists

Support from partners, seed money to assist them build their channels, customized training, workshops, and networking opportunities. It's part of the streaming service's commitment to highlighting Black voices.

Lewis is committed to supporting artists whether they are present or not, whether it is through initiatives like the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund or other less public efforts.

When asked about being recognized as a "genuine artist champion" by The Revels Group, Lewis said, "I never really thought of myself as an advocate. However, I feel like when I work on a project or develop a policy, I always put the needs of the artists and their teams first.

“Additionally, I'm constantly considering how this program or policy will benefit this artist. Otherwise, how does this harm them?” She welcomes them consistently expressing their viewpoints, and she also solicits specific input on topics from the artists and their teams. That ensures that YouTube’s decisions are well-informed and thoroughly consider artist input.

Black Music Month on YouTube

The fact that YouTube is commemorating Black Music Month and emphasizing the fact that "YouTube wouldn't be YouTube without Black music" is only fitting given how true it is. Playlists created by YouTube Music are included, as well as the #YouTubeBlackMusic Future Insiders Scholarship and other offerings.

“I'm incredibly thrilled about and involved with a new effort that we're launching called YouTube Avenues,” Seyoum said. "That's really going to help close the gap and perhaps the knowledge gap with regard to YouTube and YouTube Music and how artists, underserved groups, and Black musicians in particular can use YouTube for their monetization and to gain new fans.

“That's what we're really attempting to work on because there are occasions when the knowledge gap renders a problem unsolvable. Even if there are many more, I believe a solid group of us will continue to advance that.”


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