Corey Mwamba


Branding: Bandcamp and the agency of black artists

This morning, I was writing a message to my subscribers on Bandcamp when I noticed a tag on my music that wasn't there before: "black-bandcamp".

Let me be clear: my music is rooted in and in many ways is an expression of my experience of being black, British, and male. However,

  1. I set the intent of my music
  2. I have agency in describing my music; I can choose to describe it in that way
  3. I know the purpose of describing it in the ways that I choose, based on my intent

The tagging of "black-bandcamp" on black musicians' music can be positioned in all sorts of ways. Some will welcome it. But from my perspective

  1. only Bandcamp knows the intention of the tagging
  2. the musicians are unable to choose whether they want the tag or not
  3. The mass tagging of black musicians can serve purposes that do not match the intention

In short, this is public branding of people with no consideration of how those people feel; the people (and their cultural artefacts) are being treated as property of Bandcamp, all agency is stripped away.

This is violence, and I reject this violence entirely.

comments (2)

Corey Mwamba

19th Jun 2020 | 8:08am

I want to be absolutely clear about this: if black lives matter, then black lives must have agency. However well-intentioned the tag is/was, the compulsory tagging is a removal of agency that (for me, at least) resonates with other traumas inflicted on black people.

Corey Mwamba

19th Jun 2020 | 8:13am | replying to Corey Mwamba

I also want to clarify that calling my music "black" is not an issue; but branding my music "black Bandcamp" is a sign of ownership that only a rank corporatist would think is okay. Using the primitive tools of racism (removal of agency, property branding) does nothing to combat racism.

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