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Recording Academy Advances New Membership Model, Inviting This Year's Class
Over 1,300 highly-qualified music professionals from wide-ranging backgrounds, genres and disciplines woke up to good news this morning, as the Recording Academy begins extending membership invitations to its new class today. This monumental moment signifies a profound shift not only for the careers of the hand-picked music makers, but for the music industry in general.
Last November, the Academy revolutionized its new member submission process for the first time in over 60 years, implementing a community-driven membership model. Today, a new class of highly accomplished music professionals, recommended by their peers, receive an invitation to join the Recording Academy. We spoke with Laura Segura Mueller, Vice President of Membership & Industry Relations at the Recording Academy to gain some insight on this important step forward.
"The Recording Academy is honored to announce our inaugural membership class of 1340 qualified music creators and business professionals. The 2019 class is comprised of music creators and professionals from across the music industry and their talents and backgrounds span many genres, crafts, ethnicities, genders, ages, locations and professions. As a result of meaningful recent changes to our member recruitment process, the class is more representative of the diverse voices, modes of expression, and excellence within the music industry, as compared to the data reported in the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative studies released in 2018 and 2019."
— LIΔNΔ ВAΝK$ (@LianaBanks) June 5, 2019
The Annenberg studies revealed a very lopsided gender breakdown, reporting that across the Billboard chart data sources, women only account for 21.7 percent of artists, 12.3 percent of songwriters, and 2.1 percent of producers. These figures stunned much of the music industry and provide a stark backdrop for the Recording Academy's inaugural class.
Looking at the numbers, 49 percent of the Recording Academy class are females, 41 percent are from traditionally underrepresented communities, and 51 percent are 39 and under. The Recording Academy's current membership is 26 percent females, 24 percent traditionally underrepresented communities and 29 percent are 39 and under. While the improvement is clear, the work is just beginning.
2019 MEMBER CLASS STATS
"When you compare these figures to what was reported in the 2019 Annenberg study, it’s clear that our new member class shows a marked improvement," said Segura Mueller. "We are deeply committed continuing this positive trend for years to come."
"With such dire statistics industry-wide, we will face challenges with future new member classes if not enough women and people of color are being hired, mentored, and have access to opportunities to lead and excel. The industry-wide change we need will only be achieved when new voices are encouraged to rise through the ranks," she said, emphasizing the need for partnership with the industry as a whole.
— ASIAHN (@IamAsiahn) June 5, 2019
Last year marked the start of a series of turning points for both the Recording Academy and the music industry. As both began to take a closer look at itself, the picture of diversity and inclusion in today's music world snapped into focus, revealing a fundamental imbalance.
In response, the Recording Academy and committed industry leaders took action, organizing a Task Force chaired by Tina Tchen to examine and better understand the barriers and biases affecting underrepresented voices in the music industry and Academy, including women and people of color.
this made my entire week, i’m officially a @RecordingAcad voting member. i always believed if you wanted to make a change you had to go about it the right way | #GRAMMYs | #WeAreMusic | #GODISTHEGREATEST | #PlatterBoyz pic.twitter.com/LnY0Xuvkcc
— Poppa Foster (@BassmanFoster) June 4, 2019
Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow reflects, “I thank Tina and all of the participants for their hard work and follow through on the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. The task force was key in reviewing and helping us get this new member model off the ground after many years of internal development. It is through an industry-wide dedication on this scale that we see true transformation.”
Ultimately, the move to a yearly membership model cycle, creates a unique opportunity to celebrate the talented individuals who make up the music community and recognize the creative endeavors that enable it to thrive. The new model also more closely reflects the peer-driven process behind the GRAMMY Awards, as Kelley Purcell, Senior Director of Member Outreach points out.
"Membership is the lifeblood of the Recording Academy and a privilege we strive to uphold," says Purcell. "This evolved model puts the power in the hands of music professionals to recommend who among their peers they think should be a member and will help ensure the Academy represents the breadth and depth of talent synonymous with the recording industry. The GRAMMY Awards are already renowned for being a peer-awarded honor, and now our membership model also reinforces that peer-driven commitment to excellence."
The class of invitees will have until voting ballot deadlines to accept their invitation and participate in the 62nd GRAMMY Awards, set to take place Jan 26, 2020 in Los Angeles.
Our new peer-driven membership model is just one more way that the Recording Academy is evolving while also encouraging other industry companies to reinvent their own long-standing practices," said Segura Mueller. "We are nurturing a more inclusive organization for our members today and for generations to come."