Shawn Gee has long tried to create more opportunities for underrepresented groups in the live industry.
He says the past year, among other things, has provided an opportunity to advance in this field that must not be lost.
“I’ve always been very vocal about my thoughts about the lack of diversity and inclusivity in the industry, it’s a core part of the reason why I formed Live Nation Urban,” Gee says. “Last year was eye opening for some, and for others it was a year to be called out on their bullshit practices and policies. I hope everyone keeps that same energy that we saw in June 2020 with respect to inequities that exist.
As we all return to the normal course of business and our lives, it will become obvious who viewed the black boxes on Instagram as a trend, and who is truly invested in change. It’s an investment, a strategic long term investment that must be made.”
And he’s put his money where his mouth is during the past year doing the following:
Launched the Black Tour Directory, a resource to connect those looking to diversify their workforce, vendors, contractors or partners on a tour with a sizable body of experienced and qualified Black professionals;
Founded BlackStream Live in partnership with Twitch to “help us grow and scale the reach of our live brands as we set the path to return to live in 2021 – 2022”;
Partnered with Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote initiative, helping to organize several events including a drive-in concert in Georgia and a virtual festival; and;
Joined the Warner Music Group Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund.
Between all of these initiatives, Gee has been very busy, and he says creativity has been the key to keeping Live Nation Urban motivated over the last year, noting that “it’s not just me keeping my team motivated, it’s a two way relationship as calls with my clients on my management side or ideas that my assistant has shared on the live side of my business has inspired and motivated me as well.”
And it is indeed his relationships with other people that have not only motivated him through the pandemic, but what he looks on as some of his biggest accomplishments, or more precisely “the lives that I have impacted and the doors that I can continue to open for young executives and entrepreneurs, planting the seeds for the next generation of leaders.”
Which music artist or band has most helped you get through this year?
D Nice, The Roots, and Jill Scott.
What artist would you most like to see live when touring and festivals return?
Jill Scott, Ari Lenox and G Herbo.
When it’s safe to do so, will you go back to the office, work remotely or a combination of both? Why?
I have always worked remotely, from home, airports, hotels, venue production offices etc, so I think it will continue to be a combination of office and remote.
How will livestreaming (or how will it not) be integrated into your business going forward?
We built a platform called Blackstream Live!!!.
Your favorite music documentary – recent or old?
Summer of Soul which will be released on Hulu on July 2. I also liked the Bee Gees doc.
Technology Most Impacting Your Daily Work Or Personal Life?
I’ve noticed it more and more lately, but the iPhone. I just watch my 11-year-old daughter – her whole world is consumed through the iPhone. It’s the most game-changing thing.
Zoom, Clubhouse or TikTok? Why?
I love all three as they all were disruptive platforms that forced us to think and engage differently.