Red Bull Shuttering Most Music Programming, Lays Off Executives Amid Black Lives Matter Tensions

Red Bull is closing down most of their music programming.
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Red Bull is gutting the vast majority of its music programming. According to various reports, it is “ending all music projects” and ending “all Red Bull music events.”

It shuttered Red Bull Radio and Red Bull Music Academy in 2019 and now there are deeper cuts at the Austrian-based company. The Red Bull studios around the world in New York, Los Angeles, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Auckland, Cape Town, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and Paris are either shuttering or being sold off according to Music Business Worldwide.

A spokesperson tries to paint a rosier pictures (as is their job), saying there will still be some cultural projects under the Red Bull umbrella.

“Red Bull has decided to strengthen the focus of its culture marketing programs on where it makes most impact,” said the spokesperson (via MBW). “Culture programs that remain will include Red Bull BC One, Red Bull Dance Your Style and Red Bull Batalla de los Gallos. Many other culture marketing activities will be discontinued.

“In time, we will share the local activations that remain. On the music side Red Bull Records will continue.”

This comes after a period Red Bull has come under fire internally and externally with restructuring at the top. Florian Klaass, Red Bull's Austrian-based head of global culture marketing, was let go in February over his role in a presentation that included a map with racist stereotypes. The slide, which was leaked to Business Insider, described India as "call centers," the Middle East with "bombs go here" and Africa as "zoo animals come from here."

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"Two marketing employees said members of Red Bull's US marketing team reviewed the presentation the day before and warned the Austrian team not to use the slide in question but that their advice was ignored," Business Insider reported.

Red Bull said in a statement: “We reject racism in every form, we always have, and we always will.

“Red Bull has always put people and their dreams and accomplishments at its core and values the contribution of each and every person—no matter who they are. We want everyone who feels this way to be welcome in Red Bull.”

In addition, Stefan Kozak, the chief executive of Red Bull North America and Amy Taylor, RBNA's chief marketing officer, have been laid off as part of a broader restructuring.

Over 300 employees sent a letter to Taylor and Kozak on June 1 titled Representation Matters urging the company to "have a conversation about race," according to another Business Insider report.

According to the report, the leaked slide angered management, who warned Taylor & Kozak could be fired if more leaks happened. Taylor was reportedly working on an initiative to increase Black representation, which was reportedly not seen with much enthusiasm by Austrian leadership.

Other Red Bull staffers saw a divide between the culture division and the Austrian leadership. "The culture teams were seen as the most vocal about racial justice matters and that US staffers saw the restructuring as a form of punishment,” says a staffer to BI.

The CEO of Red Bull Dietrich Mateschitz’s right wing politics has caused controversy in the past as he has railed against refugees in Austria and Germany and “political correctness.” He has praised Donald Trump in the past. His quotes have also caused protests across soccer stadiums in Germany against RB (Red Bull) Leipzig and even by supporters of the club.

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