The Recording Academy, Berklee College of Music and Arizona State University announced on Friday (March 5) that they are partnering to conduct a study of women’s representation across the music industry. The study is expected to be completed and released in early 2022.
As a first step, the Recording Academy completed an analysis of the 63rd annual Grammy nominations and is publicly reporting gender representation amongst nominees for the first time. Among the 853 nominees across all 83 Grammy categories, 198 identify as women, representing 23 percent of nominees. (There are 84 Grammy categories, but one – best immersive audio album – is on hold until next year because of the pandemic.)
Morever, three of the four individuals who received the most nominations this year are women. Beyoncé is this year’s nominations leader with nine, followed by Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Roddy Ricch, with six.
The forthcoming study with Berklee and ASU isn’t the first initiative put in place by the Recording Academy addressing women’s representation in music. In 2019, the organization launched Women In the Mix, which prompted hundreds of music professionals and organizations to pledge to consider at least two women in the selection process every time a producer or engineer is hired. Also in 2019, the Recording Academy pledged to double the number of women voters by 2025. To date, it has reached 33 percent of that goal by adding 831 new women voting members to its membership.
“Two years ago, we started our Women in the Mix initiative with the primary goal of raising awareness,” said Harvey Mason jr., the Academy’s chair and interim president/CEO, in a statement. “[We] had an overwhelming initial response, garnering support from more than 650 of the most influential music people, executives and organizations. While we are hopeful that we will still see benefit from that effort, we haven’t seen enough progress to date. In order to accelerate our goals, we are excited to partner… on this study. The results of the research will serve as a guide for much-needed reforms in the industry at large.”
Valeisha Butterfield Jones, the Academy’s chief diversity, equity & inclusion officer, added: “Women are key drivers in the economy and across all business and creative sectors in music, globally, yet we reflect 2 percent of producers and engineers. It’s our responsibility at the Academy to be the change that we seek and inspire progress within the industry. We recognize the important work that our industry colleagues have done in this area and are doubling down on our commitment to play a more active role in providing solutions to increase the number of women working in this space…”
Susan Whitehead, chair of Berklee College of Music’s board of trustees, added: “The music industry is in need of a broad gender study that examines women representation beyond today’s popular music in order to help accurately identify key areas for growth and improvement. We look forward to working with the Recording Academy to develop strong methodology for this study and to authentically address the lack of women representation in the music industry.”
This new effort will build upon the baseline constructed by Berklee’s 2019 study, “Women in the U.S. Music Industry: Obstacles And Opportunities,” authored by Erin Barra, director of popular music at Arizona State University and executive director of Beats By Girlz; Sharon Kramer, dean of institutional research and assessment at Berklee College of Music; and Becky Prior, Berklee’s associate director of institutional research. Barra will lead the new study.
“Being able to continue this work in partnership with such powerful allies signals the importance and immediate need for this type of research…,” Barra said in a statement. “We need to make visible and tangible the obstacles and opportunities we face as women navigating an industry that wasn’t built by us or for us..”
Barra will be working alongside Lisa M. Anderson, associate professor in the School Of Social Transformation and Mako Fitts Ward, that school’s assistant professor.
On Monday (March 8), the Recording Academy will kick off Grammy Week with the inaugural Women in the Mix event that will spotlight women producers and engineers while encouraging and facilitating mentorship between established women in the industry and aspiring women music professionals.