A year unlike any other, 2020 brought unprecedented challenges both to the world and those unique to our music community.
It’s revealed and brought to the forefront many essential realities.
That we have so much to do within our community to secure the equity that Black artists are entitled to.
That we must champion and protect our ecosystem in this time of need, ensuring that our beloved venues will still be there when we’re able to reconvene.
That as artists, we face an enormous task of recovering what was lost and reshaping what holds us together.
As uncertain as both the present and future may seem, we’ve found ourselves turning to you.
In light of loss, trauma, and isolation, we still managed to come together, fight for our future, speak our truth, and in spite of everything, commit to joy. You continued to persevere, to create, and adapt in new ways in vastly uncharted territory. You managed to carry and galvanize one another through calls to action, benefit performances, and new releases.
It’s only with you that we are able to continue building towards a better, brighter, and more just future.
With that in mind, check out our Best of 2020 playlist — a compilation of Level’s rising talents, catalysts, and creators + a roundup of artists as they share their thoughts on 2020 and what future of music looks like ↴
Equity in music starts with the removal of gatekeeping: the more POC A&Rs that we have, the more queer A&Rs or music executives that we have, that’s when we’re really going to start to see true equity in our music industry.
When people from marginalized communities call the shots, that’s when you get to see different perspectives that you’ve never seen before. Right now, I don’t think our music industry really has that, and I can really see that changing for the future. The younger generation constantly pushing for that and wanting that change is what’s giving me hope for 2021.
This year has been the birth of many new “bedroom” musicians, including me! It has forced us to discover new ways to reach and captivate our audiences. Many young, talented artists have the ability to create from the resources within their own home and have it available for the whole world to listen. It’s super inspiring and makes me hopeful for the future of music.
Outside of recorded music, I think there’s a much greater conversation to be had about the accessibility of the industry to non-white people. An example is the culture of unpaid internships that pretty much guarantees that largely the people entering the industry are those who are privileged enough to work for free.
The more accessible we make the business side of the industry, the more representation we will have on the recorded side and I hope there will be way more transparency on the business side in terms of hiring practices and just overall accessibility to the industry.
We’ve all been forced to practice non-attachment this year — It’s been almost a year and a half since I’ve walked on a stage. The virtual and drive-in shows are a decent holdover but I really hope that there’s a future where we can safely get back together in person and convene around live music. A music career without live shows doesn’t feel emotionally sustainable to me.
This year has also taught me that anyone with a platform of any size has a responsibility to use it for activism, and I hope that as live shows come back, artists will continue to use their platforms to promote equity in their scenes. I’m hopeful that all the challenges we’ve been served this year will add up to something special.
The future of music looks like what it is now, just more amplified: More independent artists making stuff in their house, more people pressing their own records, more people doing whatever. More honesty, more transparency, more people getting their authentic ideas out there without the diluting of the ideas by some sort of third-party. To me, the future looks like a very inspiring and beautiful place of people being confident in their own vision.
Music hits different this year. It feels a lot more personal, like these songs are made just for you. It’s been cool to see all these new artists emerging out of impossible situations.
Setting an example for your peers and acting upon your moral beliefs is a great way to start change. I believe there are so many inspiring people in this generation, the music industry, and in other areas who will be able to foster this change. I am hopeful that 2021 will bring acceptance and love and light for all those seeking it.
People are paying more attention to up-and-coming musicians. The change in soundscape is happening faster because young people are in control. The past six months have taught me a lot about trusting myself. I just dropped out of music school a few weeks ago. That was a big step for me.