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The Recording Academy has today (Sept. 3) announced the creation of its Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy and the wider music community.
As part of the Recording Academy's commitment to evolving hand-in-hand with its membership, BMC will serve as a space for members to speak openly about new and emerging opportunities in Black music across all genres and identify ways to drive more representation.
The launch of BMC follows the Recording Academy's recent partnership with Color Of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization, in July, which set forth to create a Black music advisory group. The BMC fulfills this promise and is bringing together creators and business leaders to create a pipeline of future industry trailblazers. Leaders will meet regularly and initiate programs that will encourage participation and accelerate Black membership in the Recording Academy.
Jeffrey Harleston, Jimmy Jam, Quincy Jones, Debra Lee, John Legend, and Sylvia Rhone will serve as honorary chairs of the BMC. A distinguished leadership committee will be confirmed in the coming weeks and will work in sync with the honorary chairs to propel the collective's mission. Recording Academy Trustee Riggs Morales and Washington, D.C., Chapter Executive Director Jeriel Johnson will lead the initiative internally.
"The Black Music Collective is necessary to help drive the Recording Academy into a new era. Creating an open space for Black music creators can only benefit our membership as a whole," Harvey Mason jr., Chair and Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, said. "Through the past few months, I've been personally invested in propelling this collective along with Chapter leadership within the Academy. Together, we will elevate Black music creators within our organization and the industry at large."
"As Black music continues to drive culture, it is essential we grow and maintain representation within the Academy and the music industry," Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of the Recording Academy, said. "We're thrilled to help develop the leaders of tomorrow with impactful educational and experiential programs that we will announce in coming weeks."
In March 2018, the Recording Academy established a third-party task force to examine issues of diversity and inclusion within the Academy and the broader music community. The Academy has since taken action on the Task Force's initial assessment and recommendations and has made additional strides to facilitate a culture of belonging while recognizing the need to focus on underrepresented communities. Recent initiatives include the hiring of a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, a $1 million donation to Color Of Change, alignment with #TheShowMustBePaused movement created by Jamila Thomas (Atlantic Records) and Brianna Agyemang (Platoon), and the development of an industry Inclusion Rider and Toolkit to be released later this year.
Stay up to date on the Recording Academy's progress, future announcements and recent initiatives on diversity and inclusion.
Kristolyn Lloyd at 2018 GRAMMYs
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Given how this year has gone, perhaps you're ready to fast-forward to 2021. Beyond it no longer being 2020, next year has some other big things going for it, including Music's Biggest Night, a.k.a. the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, taking place on Jan. 31, 2021 and recognizing excellence in music released in late 2019 and 2020. Hopefully you're as excited about the show as we are! And while there is still much to be determined, including this year's pack of GRAMMY nominees and, of course, who will take home the golden gramophones based on the GRAMMYs 2021 vote, we defeinitely know enough to be excited.
To help make sure you stay in the loop, read on to learn more important dates and details about GRAMMY nominations, the Recording Academy member voting process and everything else 2021 GRAMMY Awards!
On Jan. 31, 2021, the 63rd GRAMMY Awards will be happening, rain or shine, COVID-19 vaccine or not. Because the show is still months away, whether or not there will be a live audience or red carpet will be determined and revealed closer to the big day, as the health and safety of artists, guests, crew and staff is always front of mind during every GRAMMYs.
Music fans from around the globe will be able to watch the dazzling show live on CBS / CBS All Access. Additionally, the GRAMMY Premiere Ceremony, where the majority of the 84 categories of awards are handed out, will be streamed live on GRAMMY.com. Just like the main show, the Premiere Ceremony also features epic live performances from GRAMMY nominees and star-studded announcers.
One of the biggest days in music outside of the show itself is the nominations announcement, when hundreds of artists learn they're in the running for a golden gramophone. For the upcoming 63rd GRAMMY Awards, the nominees for all categories will be announced later this year.
GRAMMY nominations is always a very celebratory day for those nominated. It is truly a moment when all the love, long hours and hard work that was put into the music feels worth it—not only have the artists' peers heard it, they've felt it's worthy of the highest acknowledgment in music. Time to gather the crew on Zoom and pop some bubbly!
The Product Eligibility Period for the 63rd GRAMMY Awards is Sept. 1, 2019—Aug. 31, 2020.
While the format of next year's GRAMMY Awards has not been announced, Harvey Mason jr., the Recording Academy Interim President/CEO, offered some insight on what to expect at the 2021 show back a June during an interview with Variety.
"We are simultaneously developing three plans for what the show would look like: One is the traditional show with the full crowd, two is a limited crowd, and three is no crowd, and there's creative around all three of those ideas: how and where we would film it. But none of them involve changing or postponing the date," said Mason.
"I've spent a lot of time talking to artists, managers and labels and getting a feel for how the pandemic is affecting the release of music—and as I'm sure you've noticed, the amount of music released has actually increased during the pandemic, so we would not want to delay our date with so much great music coming out," he continued. "But I also think it's important and helpful to have shows like this, when there's been so much uncertainty and unrest—to have something you know is coming around every year and to know there's a time when we all sit down together and watch great entertainment and art."
Amen to that! We can't wait for all the magical GRAMMY moments, epic performances and moving speeches—it's exactly what we need to start 2021 off on a positive note. While you'll have to wait to closer to the show to find out who the performers and presenters are (which are always announced in multiple waves), what's certain is things will be off the chain.
"We're trying to build the next evolution of the Academy, and the show will go hand-in-hand with that. Whether it's with a crowd or not, we're going to try to take things to the next level," Mason added.
There are quite a few exciting changes going into effect with the 63rd GRAMMY Awards! Following Ken Ehrlich's celebrated 40-year run as the show's executive producer, Emmy Award-winning producer Ben Winston is taking over the reins. The highly experienced TV/film writer/director/producer has worked on "The Late Late Show with James Corden," co-creating Corden's beloved "Carpool Karaoke" show with the comedian himself.
Additionally, several major changes to the voting guidelines and rules, the latter which affects five award categories, go into effect this year. These updates, announced in June, reflect the Recording Academy's ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape and to ensure that the nomination process and rules are more transparent and fair. More details on the changes can be found in the above link, but, the rule/category updates are highlighted below.
As the only peer-recognized music award, the GRAMMY is the music industry’s highest honor. This means GRAMMY nominations and winners are determined by the music professionals who are voting members of the Recording Academy.
Find more at the GRAMMY Awards FAQ page here, including on the voting process.
To make sure you don't miss a beat on anything GRAMMY Awards related, make sure to follow us on our social channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and subscribe to our newsletter (sign up below) and YouTube channel.
Photo: Andras Polonyi / EyeEm
Today, the Recording Academy joined Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kansas) to announce the Help Independent Tracks Succeed (HITS) Act, which allows an individual to fully expense for tax purposes the cost of new studio recordings on their taxes, up to $150,000, within the same year of production.
Music creators are among the American workers hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Tours are cancelled, venues, bars, and restaurants are shuttered, and recording studios remain closed. As independent artists and producers look for a new path forward, the HITS Act creates a foothold for recovery. Without it, the costs of making new music may be prohibitive to creators following months of lost income.
"The Recording Academy is proud to have worked alongside Reps. Sánchez and Estes to develop the key provisions in the HITS Act," said Harvey Mason jr., Chair and Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy. "The HITS Act will make a meaningful impact and help ease the financial burden for thousands of independent creators getting back on track, eager to share their creativity with the world. It will inspire new music and create opportunities for many of the vulnerable professionals in our community to persevere during these uncertain times."
Currently, individual recording artists and record producers are required to amortize production expenses for tax purposes over the economic life of a sound recording, typically 3-4 years. The HITS Act allows artists and producers to choose to deduct 100 percent of their production expenses for records created in the United States in the year such expenses are incurred, in the same manner that qualified film and television production expenses are allowed to be expensed. Expenses can include studio equipment, studio rental fees, staff costs, electricity, studio musicians, and much more.
"We are living through tough times and nothing helps you escape like turning on your favorite album," said Rep. Sánchez. "Similar to many families and workers across the country, the coronavirus has also had an enormous impact on music makers. Gigs have been canceled, studios shuttered, and creative writing sessions postponed. I'm proud to introduce the HITS Act with Rep. Estes. Our bill will provide small, independent creators with a bit of help getting back to work, making the music we turn to in good times and bad."
"Music is a powerful language that connects people of varying generations, backgrounds and experiences," said Rep. Estes. "The men and women who make music — either through writing, singing, playing or producing — deserve to have the same tax benefits as artists in the film, television and live theater industries. The HITS Act is sound legislation that supports our creative communities throughout the United States and encourages music makers of all sizes and notoriety."
Many music creators watched their incomes disappear as the pandemic ushered in a new normal of closures and cancellations. The median income for a professional musician is less than $25,000 a year, and independent music professionals will be among the last to return to work as the nation gradually reopens. As the only organization representing all music creators, the Recording Academy will continue to support government assistance that will help music creators navigate their way through this unprecedented time and subsequent recovery period.
Photo: English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images
One year ago, the Recording Academy and She Is The Music, in conjunction with the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force launched the #WomenInTheMix initiative to create a much-needed change in the music industry. According to a 2019 report from USC Annenberg only 2 percent of popular music is produced by women. In a moving new video, this alarming statistic is brought to life
The video shows a 50-woman choir singing GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys new single, "Underdog," while women begin to sit down one-by-one until only one woman remains standing and singing alone. She represents the 2 percent of popular music produced by women in a striking visual illustrating a lopsided reality in the music industry.
But since #WomenInTheMix launched, there has been improvement surge in support for the groundbreaking initiative. The initiative continues to gain steam and traction, with over 650 producers, labels, artists, agencies management companies and other stakeholders pledging to consider at least two women in the selection process every time a music producer or engineer is hired. It also asks working producers to agree to take issues of gender diversity within music’s technical fields into account when deciding who to mentor and hire for further development.
"I know from personal experience that, to truly move the music industry forward, we need to make a clear effort to engage and empower women," added GRAMMY winner Brandi Carlile. "Artists and studios should commit fully to initiatives such as Women in the Mix, which help ensure representation and gender diversity in all aspects of music making -- from the stage to the studio."
To this end, USC Annenberg's 2020 study arrived late last month, illustrating some encouraging yet slow change in the gender gap. According to the new report, this number has risen from 2 percent to 5 percent, although the reality is the number still reveals ample room for improvement in conditions for women in the music industry.
The new study was once again overseen by the Annenberg Initiative's founder and director, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, and also incorporates telling statistics on GRAMMY nominations. Notably, it states this year's nominations reflected the highest number of female nominees across five select categories in the past eight years, up to 20.3 percent.
"While these shifts are small, collective action takes place when multiple companies, in multiple positions of gatekeeping, take action," Smith told Billboard. "We're starting to see change."
But females are still missing in popular music. The new study, which was funded by Spotify and uses its streaming data from 800 popular songs since 2012, also shows a lack of representation of women in songwriting (12.5 percent) and artists (21.7 percent) with a notable lack of women of color in the producer role (only 8 out of 1,093), although as artists, men and women of color have climbed the charts in recent years.
"As producers fill a leading creative role, it’s essential to ensure that women from all backgrounds are being considered and hired throughout the industry." said Dr. Smith. "Moreover, the industry itself must continue to expand its commitment to representing the voices and talent of women in all aspects of the business."
Through the lens of USC Annenberg report's data, awareness within the music industry of its need to change is growing, but only through taking action, as the hundreds of music professionals and organizations have with #WomenInTheMix, can real change be realized. For more information on #WomenInTheMix, please visit the initiative's website.