Why we started the Black Artist Database
Every day is a good day to support and buy from Black artists. B.A.D.'s Kay Ferdinand explains why
B.A.D., as is by now well documented, started out as Black Bandcamp, an effort by Niks and some friends to create a resource to gather support for Black artists during the midst of the most recent shine of the global spotlight on issues of Black liberation. I wasn’t personally involved right at the beginning, but some early phone calls for an event series focusing on showcasing Blackness in electronic music (which went on to become B.A.D. Presents…) showed that we were on the same wavelength. The goal then remains one of our goals today: to get more Black people paid off Black music. Gradually, as the project expanded, the scope blossomed, and Niks took me on as a director, to focus on content & curation — but that goal remains front and centre when we ask ourselves what we do, or why we do it.
Since then, our efforts have grown alongside the first database; a second database for creatives being the latest of our new initiatives (which you can sign up for here); the first B.A.D. Presents… party; our free Masterclass Production series, sharing knowledge in the community. Our intention throughout this expansion has been to create, and normalise, pro-Black spaces of creativity. This industry - specifically in the Global North - yields little space for Black people to be weird, or vulnerable, or happy, even; to get to where we are presently, our pioneers had to fight, just like our contemporaries do now. What we know, however, is that this space is vital for the creative progression of Black dance music; Black art; Black cinema; Black thought. It reminds me of a thread from a conversation I had with Russell E.L. Butler on Voices, B.A.D.’s podcast series, and it’s something that, for me, drives this urge to fight for these spaces — that systemic racism and generational Black trauma is as limiting as it is inspirational.
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But why do we have to fight? Why is it not more easily afforded to those, more often than not, bursting through the creative frontier? Why are we purposefully distanced from our creations? Why are we told that we aren’t marketable the way we want to present ourselves, not worthy of attention, when our underground movements are sweeping scenes; nations, even? Why do we have to make the choice between financial security and creative credit; and sometimes end up with neither?
At B.A.D. we believe one of the solutions to these problems is building our own systems. If we, and organisations like us, create our own spaces, in ways that push the marginalised to the forefront; in ways that value community, unfettered creativity, and equity; and bring enough resources into them to fairly compensate creatives - we can change our line of questioning. Why should we deviate from our creative visions? Why shouldn’t our names be in the credits? Why can’t we get paid for our work?
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So, this is what we’ll continue to do. Keep on creating space for Black people in the industry, however we can, be it on our own or with our key partners, collaborators, or the community. By demanding fairness, encouraging boundless creation, and showing each other love.
And here’s what you can do. Grab a few tunes from artists on the database. Check out our online store. Drop us a message on socials (we love hearing from you!), and keep an eye out for all the work we’re putting in this year.
Every day is a good day to support and buy from Black artists.
Kay Ferdinand is B.A.D.'s Director. Follow the Black Artist Database on Instagram