How YouTube Is Amplifying Asian And Pacific Islander Artists


YouTube Music this week released a new playlist in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) in May. The five-hour music compilation of 84 tracks, “Celebrating APAHM,” amplifies a diverse pool of iconic and emerging Asian American artists, most notably Forbes 30 Under 30 singer and songwriter Eric Nam, who was also named one of GQ Korea’s 2016 “Men of the Year.”  

“Celebrating APAHM” playlist cover stars rotate weekly with the first being rising Korean-American R&B singer and rapper Audrey Nuna featured with her new single “Space.” In addition to the new playlist, YouTube is applauding the stories and creativity of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) creators and artists on the YouTube Spotlight channel and across the platform to educate fans and grow long-lasting API representation in the music industry. 

“We really wanted to take this moment around APAHM to shed a light on the music and culture, and the art and joy that comes from the APAHM community,” says YouTube Label Relations Manager Stephanie Shim, who co-led the API strategy with YouTube Music’s East Coast Head of Artist Relations, Grace Lee. “At the same time, we’re also giving opportunities for artists and creators to speak to their own stories and also some of the struggles that are facing the community today.”

According to Shim, YouTube’s goal is to extend APAHM efforts well past May. Collaborating with partners across the platform, the YouTube team collected videos from Asian American musicians, creators, artists and influencers about their experiences growing up in America. The new video playlist, “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month,” focuses on artists including DJ Steve Aoki who recounts the challenges that he faced as a Japanese American finding his place in American pop culture. 

“I’m happy that I grew up in this more conservative, white, upper-class society that really bred this ignorance towards other ethnicities where I was able to find my voice. I had to be able to survive and find my voice in an area where I was lost,” says Aoki in his video, “Steve Aoki: Struggles of Growing Up Asian American,” about living in Newport Beach, California. 

Shim says that YouTube is encouraging featured API artists to address the issues that they care about most and carry on conversations with fans on social media. Many of the videos also feature donation options to support Asian fundraisers. 

“Raising our voices and telling our stories is really important, and YouTube is a great platform for that,” says Shim, who is a Korean American. “The more people realize how different everybody’s stories are, how we all come from really different backgrounds and how everyone’s story is unique, I think that will go against many of the stereotypes and discrimination that (the API) community tends to face.”  

YouTube is offering fans additional playlists showcasing Asian artists and the extensive contributions they’ve made to music and culture. YouTube Learning is launching two playlists exploring APAHM history and communities that shaped modern U.S. history, while upcoming episodes of YouTube’s Released music series will feature special API programming on Thursdays at 11:45 p.m. EST.  

On June 16, YouTube Originals will debut a new special, “Recipe for Change.” Produced by The SpringHill Company, the show brings Asian American storytellers together with celebrities, chefs, activists and creators to honor API culture and discuss recent, historic acts of hate and violence against the API community.



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