07 Feb 2018 | Music Business World
“Earlier this week, senior female executives at companies such as Universal, Sony, Warner and Roc Nation made waves by sending a letter.
On Monday, six US power players in the music business delivered a missive to Grammys organiser the Recording Academy (aka NARAS) calling for drastic changes to be made to its make-up.
Those power players were: Jody Gerson (CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group), Julie Greenwald (Atlantic Records COO/Chairman), Sylvia Rhone (President, Epic Records), Julie Swidler (EVP/General Counsel, Sony Music), Michele Anthony (EVP, Universal Music Group) and Desiree Perez (COO of Roc Nation).
The news followed outcry over a lack of female representation at this year’s Grammys, which took place on January 28 in New York City. That outcry grew in volume significantly after Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow used a misjudged phrase during an interview – in which he called on female executives and musicians to “step up” to the higher echelons of the industry.
We now have possession of the letter in full, which you can read below.
Every one of the important institutions in music have all needed to evolve, be self-reflective and change with the times. Some have been slower than others to change, but it has been happening throughout the industry.
No one can afford to be out of touch. We have been held accountable by our artists, songwriters and fans. We need to reflect the core values of what an inclusive and diverse culture of music is all about – and serve as a model of leadership across the broader society.
The National Association of Recording Arts & Sciences, which purports to represent every area of the music ecosystem (e.g., artists, producers, songwriters, engineers) should be leaders in this evolution, and yet it has shown itself to be the opposite.
We ask you, as a Board, to take this message from those who have devoted their lives to music seriously.
Neil Portnow’s comments are not a reflection of being ‘inarticulate’ in a single interview. They are, unfortunately emblematic of a much larger issue with the NARAS organization as a whole on the broader set of inclusion issues across all demographics – from the make-up of the voting membership and its transparency, to production of the show, to the organization’s hiring practices and more.
To be clear, if NARAS seeks to reflect music’s diverse community then it must ‘step up’ and be accountable to it.
We have seen media reports that a task force is being organized. The only way to drive real progress is to ensure that the task force is diverse in its membership, isn’t limited in its scope to review issues of inclusion, and has the ability to effect meaningful change at every level of NARAS.
Assuming that is the case, and as senior music executives with true commitment to the welfare of the organization and the music community, we hereby put ourselves forward for service. We are also ready to meet with members of the Recording Academy board of trustees to start discussing what additional steps might be taken, beginning now, to make inroads on the issues of inclusion and diversity.
Michele Anthony, Jody Gerson, Julie Greenwald, Sylvia Rhone, Julie Swidler, Desiree Perez.Music Business Worldwide