As June comes to a close, the celebration of Black Music Appreciation Month still continues at YouTube Music. The championing for Black artists remains at the forefront, thanks to two Black woman executives there.
Artist Partnerships Lead Brittany Lewis and Global Music Strategist Lead Mahlet Seyoum have teamed up to advance the same efforts of amplifying Black voices.
From Senior Music Editor at Global Grind to Creative Manager, Hip-Hop and R&B, at Spotify, Lewis is familiar with covering and showcasing artists. She leverages this experience in her current role at YouTube to give artists the hands-on support needed to flourish on the music platform. She also oversees the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund as co-lead.
Launched in 2020, the fund is a multi-year commitment “dedicated to spotlighting and growing Black creators and music on our platform, by giving them access to resources to help them thrive on YouTube,” per the YouTube Creators website.
“I feel like the work that I do every day—whether it’s for a cause or a policy—I’m always thinking about the artists and their teams first,” Lewis told AfroTech. “And always thinking about, ‘How does this program or policy help this artist? Or how does this hurt them?’ Just always speaking from their perspective or point of view and getting feedback from artists and their teams. Just making sure that at YouTube we’re making informed decisions that have artist input.”
Seyoum, on the other hand, has a theater background. Her professional experience includes serving as sales development manager and digital brand strategy lead for Emea Brandworks at Google before joining YouTube. In her current role, Seyoum prioritizes artist needs and discovering creative ways for them to connect with fans.
The Global Music Strategist executive is gearing up for the rolling out of a new initiative, called YouTube Avenues.
“That’s really going to help bridge the gap and maybe the knowledge gap with regard to YouTube and YouTube Music and how artists, underserved communities, and Black artists specifically can use YouTube for their monetization and to reach new fans,” Seyoum said. “Sometimes that knowledge gap makes it insurmountable and so that’s what we’re really trying to work on. That’s just one of many, but I think that there’s a good group of us who are always gonna be driving that forward.”
Since June 1, YouTube has launched a four-part weekly programmed playlists series in honor of Black Music Month and Juneteenth. If you haven’t already, tune in to learn more about YouTube Music’s lineup here.