Work Diaries: Tuma Basa’s worklife, focused on Black Music & Culture at YouTube
Aug 26, 2020 – minute read
Aug 26, 2020 – minute read
We’re peeling back the curtains with our series, Work Diaries, where you can experience the inner workings of YouTube. How do decisions get made? What goes into a product, feature or policy? We’re asking YouTube employees to give us the low-down during a five-day period.
Featured today: Tuma Basa is the Director of Black Music & Culture, and he works across YouTube to increase its engagement with black artists.
8:30 a.m.: I was drinking coffee and getting ready for my 9 a.m. videoconference, when POW!!! My wife informed me that our rental car outside had gotten towed. Damn.
8:45 a.m.: I contact DJ Fully Focus, my 9 a.m, to move our meeting, and then hop in an Uber to the tow-truck spot.
10 a.m.: With rental car retrieved, I finally do the videoconference with Fully Focus, a popular DJ in Atlanta, who is a pioneer of playing African music on U.S. radio.
11 a.m.: The connection to Africa continues into my next meeting, which was an internal meeting about Wizkid with our UK team, plus some early-risers from our Los Angeles office.
12 p.m.: Two back-to-back meetings with the leadership team about strategy for 2021.
2:30 p.m.: I’m back in Africa again (virtually). A catch up with Tega, the COO of Mavin Records, who is based in Nigeria. Before COVID, we saw each other regularly at events, but with travel restrictions, that has changed.
3 p.m.: Meeting with Marketing folks. I brought up an artist for an opportunity, but capacity was limited.
6 p.m.: We had a new album listening session on Google Hangout, so we can figure out ways to support it as a company.
Today’s highlight: It was my boy AJ’s birthday. He works in the Artist Relations Department here at YouTube. I created a birthday collage, then sent it to him via a group text we are both on.
8:30 a.m.: My wife and I went on our morning walk. Got a coffee for my headache.
10 a.m.: Met up with Christina Lin. She works in marketing, but we first met overseas when she worked for Google Africa. Caught up on what we were working on and reminisced about Africa.
11 a.m.: Met with Dr. Garth Graham, whose presentation on how COVID-19 disproportionately affects African-Americans blew me away. This was a follow-up on how we can get that info to influencers.
2 p.m.: Worked on a Racial Justice Initiative for YouTube from a music standpoint.
3:30 p.m.: Hip Hop/R&B Planning meeting. Discussed whether we thought a certain album from a certain artist was gonna be released on Friday.
4 p.m.: Sat on a committee, determining funding for some future music livestreams on YouTube.
7 p.m.: Joined a country review on Australia for the last year. I was privileged to visit last November when travel was regular. They’ve overcome an overwhelming year... bushfires, floods, pandemic and their own Black Lives Matter.
Today’s highlight: It’s my one-year anniversary of the Gusaba (traditional wedding) that my wife and I had in Rwanda. I posted some pics of the occasion on Instagram (@tumabasa), wishing my wife a “Happy Gusaba-versary.” She loved it.
8:15 a.m.: Took a long walk with my wife to Starbucks again.
10 a.m.: Listened to a sampler of unreleased Burna Boy songs. (This album came out on Aug 14.)
12 p.m.: Brainstormed with an internal research group on current hip hop tastemakers.
2 p.m.: Briefed Lyor Cohen, Head of Music at YouTube, on details of an upcoming presentation.
2:30 p.m.: Caught up with DJ Khaled on video call. Talked about what he had coming up in the future, reminisced about the old days and how things have changed ever since.
4 p.m.: Participated in a curated Black @ YouTube “Be Well” summit for the New York chapter.
5 p.m.: Listened to some of Logic’s album, which was about to be released and then spoke to his manager about their plans to roll-out the album.
6 p.m.: Virtual meeting with the founders of the music industry’s BMAC (Black Music Action Coalition).
7 p.m.: Follow-up meeting with Petrina Convey (VP of Cultural Marketing & Artist Development and Head of Urban Music, Asia Pacific) from Sony Australia.
9 p.m.: Hopped back on a video call with Vivien Lewit, Global Head of Artist Relations, to prep for a presentation.
Today’s highlight: Catching up with Khaled. We had lots to talk about.
8 a.m.: Yesterday was a long day, so instead of walking, I decided to drive my rental car to grab my morning commercial coffee infusion. Luckily, it wasn’t towed.
10 a.m.: Caught up with Nicole Hunter, my team’s ABP (Administrative Business Partner), to plan a top-secret initiative that will help make the world a better place. Then spoke to another ABP, Jordan Schepps, about plans for next week’s virtual offsite.
10:20 a.m.: Went down a rabbit-hole of gospel music on YouTube to catch up on that genre. It was inspired by a conversation with Nicole about Yolanda Adams’ “Open My Heart” song.
12 p.m.: Joined a group discussion on how to improve black creator experience on YouTube.
1 p.m.: Attended a Town Hall for the business organization, led by Robert Kyncl.
2:30 p.m.: Joined a workstream, figuring out the management and allocation of funds to support black artists.
3 p.m.: Ate a late lunch and then joined a prioritization meeting (with full stomach).
5 p.m.: Reached out to Black Googler Network to support Dr. Cornel West.
6:30 p.m.: Joined Lyor on his call to Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Tricia Rose.
7 p.m.: Watched premiere of Dr. West and Rose’s Tight Rope podcast on YouTube.
7:30 p.m.: Caught up with Brittany Lewis in Artist Relations. She’s dope and fun to work with.
Today’s highlight: Watching this video, below.
7:30 a.m.: Just waking up in the morning, gotta thank GOD. Ice Cube’s words, my feelings…
8 a.m.: No coffee run because of early video call with Kevin Liles and 300 Entertainment.
8:45 a.m.: Caught up with Stephen Bryan, Head of Label Relations for YouTube.
9:15 a.m.: My wife was kind enough to bring me back iced coffee after her jog. (I didn't even ask.)
9:30 a.m.: Got so caught up testing one of our new products that I accidentally missed a meeting.
10 a.m.: Checked emails. I hate emails, but they are a necessary evil.
12 p.m.: Motivational talk with a young manager of a successful singer. (Can’t say their name.)
3:30 p.m.: Went through music-related pitches with Jessica and Alex from YouTube Originals.
4:30 p.m.: Connected Cipha Sounds with Chelsea from Operations Management to solve a problem.
5 p.m.: Caught up with my Gaby Acevedo from G-Starr Entertainment about his new artist J.I the Prince of N.Y., a young rising star.
6 p.m.: Ordered a birthday bottle of tequila to be delivered to a friend/colleague’s house.
7 p.m.: Started the weekend by watching a movie on Netflix from the 80s with my wife. (It sucked.)
Today’s highlight: The surprise coffee from my wife. She’s the sweetest, so I watched an awful movie (from the ‘80s) that she wanted to watch. It’s called “Hard Lessons: The Story of George McKenna,” starring a young Denzel Washington.