YouTube overnight announced an initial round of winners for its 2021 YouTube Black Voices Class, an initiative to invest in new video-sharing narratives “that emphasize the intellectual power, authenticity, dignity and joy of black voices.”
The 132 creators and artists come from the US, UK, Kenya, Brazil, Australia, South Africa and Nigeria and include musicians, beauty entrepreneurs, comedians, activists, poets, personal trainers, teachers and photographers. Everyone has attended previous YouTube Black events, invited to apply, and rated the channel performance and engagement metrics. YouTube has announced that it will open the application process for the next round of scholarships to a wider range of candidates over the next few months.
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Ideal music applicants – 21 were selected this year – were keen to establish a long-term channel strategy and get music out by mid-2021, YouTube said.
The company will provide seed capital for channel development, partner support, training, workshops and the networking program. It is planned to work with more than 500 artists and artists worldwide by 2023.
The start-up capital comes from the $ 100 million YouTube Black Voices Fund announced last June. The company called Black Voices “part of the extensive work currently being done to make YouTube a place where black artists, creators, and users can share and protect their stories” to become more inclusive.
Malik Ducard, VP of Content Partnerships at YouTube, said the fund and initiative emerged from the YouTube Black Summit in Los Angeles four years ago, which was attended by influential black creators on the platform. “We wanted to dial in and show our commitment to this community in a new and much bigger way,” he said.
“There are millions of artists out there,” noted Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s music director. The idea is to “help some of these artists pack a battery,” he added. “Also support us and improve our product.”
“This is not a bolt of lightning,” he promised. “This is about keeping the drumbeat of change alive.”
Ducard said the awards are unconditional – the creators do not give up ownership or control of their content.