The Recording Academy has announced a Member Invitation Initiative based on the findings of its Task Force On Diversity & Inclusion. The Recording Academy is working to build a membership that reflects its diverse creative community, and to help the music community and industry thrive as a place where all voices are welcomed, supported, and nurtured to succeed.
"a first step"
In an effort to effect immediate change in advance of this year’s 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards, as part of the new Member Invitation Initiative, invites were extended to a broad range of music creators, including vocalists, songwriters, instrumentalists, producers, and engineers representing a diversity of music genres, ethnicities, gender, and age groups. Invitations were based on recommendations from the Task Force in collaboration with the Recording Academy, and all individuals were pre-qualified by the Recording Academy. Many of the invitations were sent out by members of the Task Force personally. Those who accept their invitations to join by Nov. 15 will have the opportunity to participate in the final round of voting for the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards. Those who join after Nov. 15 will be eligible to vote in next year’s awards cycle.
“Our invite initiative is a first step to reach out to the diverse, talented individuals who make up the music community,” said Tina Tchen, Chair of the Task Force. “The Recording Academy should reflect the scope and scale of the music industry and recognize the creative and artistic endeavors that enable it to thrive. Having a truly diverse membership is the foundation for any change. This initiative is one of the many ways the Task Force is encouraging change in practices while nurturing a more inclusive organization for Academy members today and for generations to come.”
Since its formation in May, the Task Force has been charged with identifying barriers and unconscious biases that impede the advancement of underrepresented communities across the music industry, and developing solutions and best practices for the Academy and industry. While this is a matter with complex facets and no single solution, the Recording Academy and Task Force are committed to addressing these challenges in a thoughtful, comprehensive way.
Beyond the Member Invitation Initiative, with the help of the Task Force, the Recording Academy has diversified the composition of its Nominations Review Committees and National Governance Committees, which oversee various aspects of the organization’s operations, including the telecast, awards, and corporate governance. This year, the composition of the Nominations Review Committees is 51% female and 48% people of color; last year, those figures were 28% female and 37% people of color. Similarly, the current composition of the National Governance Committees is 48% female and 38% people of color; last year, those figures were 20% female and 30% people of color. In addition, the appointed National Governance Committee co-chairs are 43% female and 43% people of color; last year, those figures were 46% female and 23% people of color.
Additionally, the Recording Academy, alongside Tchen, hosted a series of Listening Forums in Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York this past summer. To further understand the changes that need to be made across the organization and the larger music industry, the forums provided an opportunity for members of the music community to share their experiences in the industry.
While the Member Invitation Initiative underscores the Recording Academy and Task Force’s urgency in effecting change this awards season, the Academy is also implementing changes to its membership process in order to build a more diverse and relevant community over time. With input from the Task Force, the Recording Academy has developed a new membership model, which will go into effect Nov. 19. Similar to the Member Invitation Initiative, the new model will center on community-driven recommendations, and also include a Peer Review Panel, which will convene to evaluate all new member submissions in the spring. The new community-driven membership model aims to drive greater diversity across genre, discipline, gender, ethnicity, and age while helping ensure relevance through an active membership base.
“A key goal of the new membership model is to continue increasing diversity across the Recording Academy,” said Laura Segura Mueller, Vice President of Membership & Industry Relations for the Recording Academy. “Just as we do with our awards process, we want to hear from the music community directly. 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.”
These initiatives are among the many first steps the Recording Academy and Task Force are taking to manifest meaningful change in the organization and across the music industry.