Over the past year, the music industry began an extraordinary transformation.
Heavy-hitting task forces were assembled to tackle racial inequality amid a wave of national protests against police brutality, while music’s biggest companies committed hundreds of millions of dollars to the cause. Artists and their managers, agents and promoters — many of whom saw their income plummet in the pandemic — were forced to reinvent their businesses as they sought relief from organizations fighting to help the live industry survive. Through it all, music professionals marched in the streets, encouraged people to vote in a historic election, brainstormed solutions on virtual panels and mourned the loss of family, friends and music legends to COVID-19.
In other words, it didn’t feel much like a year for congratulating music’s most powerful people on how powerful they still are. So instead of compiling the Power List that Billboard has published annually since 2012, we decided instead to honor some of the individuals changing the business — both by advocacy and by example — in our first Change Agents issue.