Are you thinking of becoming a member of the Recording Academy? Senior VP of member services Nancy Shapiro tells Billboard why joining the Academy is important, what membership offers and new details about the summer 2013 relaunch of the organization's members-only website, Grammy365.com.

HOW IT WORKS
The Recording Academy offers three levels of membership: voting member, associate member and student member. "Basically, everyone in the music community can become one of those three," says Shapiro, a 28-year veteran of the Academy who splits her time between Nashville and Los Angeles. The Academy comprises 21,000 industry personnel, nearly 12,000 of whom are voting members. In addition to musicians and singers, the Academy consists of producers, engineers and other music professionals.

To become a voting member, applicants need at least six credits on a physical release or 12 for digital. Those with fewer than six credits can still become non-voting associate members and receive access to Grammy365, event invitations and networking opportunities. Student memberships are offered to those between the ages of 17 and 25 who are enrolled in a college, university or trade school. Student memberships are available for $25 per year (or $50 for four years), and the annual fee for voting and associate members is $100.


WHAT IT GETS YOU

The Academy is "so broad in its services and commitment that regardless of where you are in your music business career there's something we offer specifically to meet those needs," Shapiro says. In addition to allowing qualified members to vote and participate in the Grammy Awards process, the Academy provides members with countless opportunities to engage in the music community and network with peers. The Academy comprises 12 U.S. chapters, which regularly host industry-related workshops, seminars and networking sessions.

"A lot of what we do is up close and personal with people our members want to hear from," Shapiro says. Events range from high-level music executives speaking about new business models to otolaryngologists lecturing on how to protect one's vocal cords when singing.

The Academy also caters to younger people who are interested in a career in the music business. Shapiro says students who've joined the Academy in recent years have not only gained deeper insight into the functionality of the music business, but also made worthwhile connections that helped lead to jobs after graduation. Additionally, "there are great stories about Grammy U student songwriters who caught the eye of a publisher and now have a publishing deal," she says. On the advocacy level, the Academy also has a fully staffed advocacy and government relations office in Washington, D.C., that aims to protect and represent the rights of its creative and technical professional on Capitol Hill.

"We do a lot of advocacy work at the state level, too," Shapiro says. "We have a collective voice through the Recording Academy and we use that all the time."

For those looking to give back, the Academy offers a charitable platform through MusiCares, which provides financial assistance to musicians in need.


GRAMMY365 RELAUNCH

In 2011, singer/songwriter Linda Chorney received a nomination in the Americana album category for Emotional Jukebox. Chorney said she received the nod after befriending voting members of the Academy through Grammy365.com, a social network for members. "Without Grammy365 I wouldn't have gotten anywhere," she told Billboard in December 2011.

Grammy365 will be the "premiere industry resource center" following its relaunch next summer, Shapiro says. To help carry out its goal of populating the site-which will be renamed-with more interviews, blogs, chats and other interactive features, the Academy recently hired content managers Nate Herweck and Daniel Mendoza to oversee the revamp.

"In the next few months, we'll be capturing our events nationally and sharing them," Shapiro says, noting that the site will be more user-friendly. "We want people to be able to watch them at their convenience."

Meanwhile, ahead of the upcoming 55th -annual Grammys, voting members will now be able to listen to nominated projects on the iPad, iPhone and Android.

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