Nickelback lawyer apologizes for tweet criticizing Juno Awards diversity

Jonathan Simkin 604 Records co-founder, in his office in 2012.

Kim Stallknecht Kim Stallknecht / PROVINCE

B.C. based lawyer-turned-music executive Jonathan Simkin issued an apology Wednesday for what he called a badly-worded tweet.

Simkin, the lawyer for the rock band Nickelback and a co-founder of 604 Records, where he manages acts like Carly Rae Jepsen and Marianas Trench, deleted his Twitter account this week after many took offense to a tweet in which he appeared to criticize the diversity and inclusivity of this year’s Juno Awards, which were held in Vancouver.

“Just signed a new band,” Simkin tweeted on July 10. “2 guys, 2 gals. One is Indian, one is Korean, one is black, and one is physically impaired. I call them ‘The Inclusive 4″. Their music sucks balls — just horrible — but I figure they are a shoo-in to get on the next @TheJunoAwards broadcast next year.”

Simkin was roundly criticized for the tweet, which seemed to take issue with the diversity on the Juno Awards stage this year, as up-and-coming artists of colour like Daniel Caesar and Jessie Reyez performed, as did the Northern Touch All-Stars, a collective comprised of Canadian hip hop pioneers Rascalz, Checkmate, Kardinal Offishall, Thrust and Choclair.

Simkin need not panic, however: the Juno award for album of the year has gone to a nonwhite artist just two times in its 40-plus years. If there’s a diversity problem at the Juno Awards, it isn’t manifesting in quite the way he thinks.

Furthermore, one wonders if the man whose label has represented not just Nickelback but numerous Nickelback clones can really be an authority on diversity.

Simkin’s account reappeared Thursday, now with just one tweet — a written statement apologizing for the social media blunder.

“Last week I tweeted something about the Juno Awards that I wish to speak to,” Simkin said. “The tweet was a poor attempt made in bad taste to address a serious issue. I deeply regret my choice of words in trying to make that point.”

“Upon reflection, I can see that the comments were horribly insensitive, and I understand why some people have been hurt by those words. To those people, I apologize. It was not my intent to cause hurt, or to cause people who feel disenfranchised to feel even more disenfranchised.”

“So let me be clear, here and now. Inclusion is extremely important, and necessary. Inclusion needs to be a big part of any discussion when it comes to the music business, the media and the world around us. I feel confident that an examination of my decisions in hiring staff, in signing artists, and in how I conduct my affairs and personal life say much more about where my heart is on the issue of inclusion than a carelessly worded tweet sent from a hotel room after midnight.”

Still, Simkin clearly has more controversial opinions about inclusion than his statement would indicate.

“When decisions are made just on the colour of someone’s skin, that scares me,” he told the Vancouver Courier.

It is worth noting that this scares people of colour too, especially since they are far more often the victims of these decisions than the benefactors.


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