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Grammys to study women’s representation in music

Only 23% of nominees for the 2021 Grammys identify as women. A new study by the music industry body behind the awards will study female representation within the business.

The body that organises the Grammy Awards will be launching an investigation into female representation within the music industry.

It comes after frequent accusations of sexism, voting irregularities, and racial bias within the Recording Academy. The Grammys are routinely hit with criticism every year and have historically had a habit of favouring commercial, white pop acts for big awards.

Anyone who remembers Macklemore winning best album over Kendrick Lamar in 2015 will remember the public outcry, and just last year Tyler The Creator called out the Grammys for lazily slapping the term ‘urban’ on any music not fronted by a white person.

There are large sectors of the industry that regard the Recording Academy as outdated and bigoted. Even this year only 23% of the nominees identify as women, which is a measly 198 out of 853 across 83 categories. Former president Neil Portnow has also been accused of rape by a female artist, which he has denied.

There is clearly an issue of representation and inequality across the music industry, not just via the Recording Academy. Still, the Grammys getting its act together could see things improve over time even if it’s a slow process.

It has promised to double the number of female voters for awards and nominations by 2025 and improve the widespread participation of women within the industry. Chair and interim president, Harvey Mason Jr, also acknowledged in a statement that there ‘hasn’t been enough progress to date’ regarding female opportunities.

The Academy’s chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, Valeisha Butterfield Jones, stated that ‘women are key drivers in the economy, yet we reflect 2% of producers and engineers.’

She also noted that the Academy would be ‘doubling down’ on being more active in providing solutions to gender equality issues within the music business in future. We should expect more pro-active approaches and (hopefully) a little more media attention on this issue outside of the yearly Grammy award cycle.

The study is expected to take a year and is being done in partnership with Berklee College of Music and Arizona State University. We’ve no idea what the report will contain – but we’re likely to see the numbers in March 2022.

Let’s hope this is the first step toward a more balanced industry that equally reflects the diversity of talent on offer. The days of male-centric charts and rock and roll bands are over, people.


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