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Recording Academy Unveils Inclusion Initiative

Initiative aims to increase the number of female producers and engineers across the industry.

Santa Monica, CA (February 4, 2019)—The Recording Academy’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion has announced The Producer & Engineer Inclusion Initiative, intended to create more opportunities for female music producers and engineers across the music industry.

The Recording Academy came under fire last spring for a Grammy Awards telecast that was largely devoid of female performers (or winners), and matters got worse when Neil Portnow, CEO of the Academy, suggested backstage that it ultimately meant women needed to “step up”—a comment that he later conceded was a “poor choice of words.” In the wake of that, the Recording Academy formed its Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion and the new initiative marks its first public effort, part of a larger strategy to increase diversity and inclusion across the music industry.

Consumed with Music Consumption

The move would appear to be much needed—according to a 2018 USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, only 2 percent of music producers and 3 percent of engineers/mixers across popular music are women.

As a result, the Inclusion Initiative calls on those responsible for or involved in selecting and hiring producers and engineers to commit to making hiring decisions only after considering a slate of candidates that includes at least two women.

It also asks working producers to take gender diversity challenges in music’s technical fields into account when determining who to mentor and prepare for development and advancement opportunities.

The Recording Academy has committed to creating and hosting a webpage dedicated solely to facilitating the process of identifying working female producers and engineers. The website enables anyone seeking to consider and hire a woman for a position to quickly access relevant resources, including tools provided by She Is The Music and Women’s Audio Mission.

“The music industry is at a crossroads and progress won’t happen on its own,” said Tina Tchen, partner at the law firm Buckley Sandler and previously an assistant to President Barack Obama, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama. “There is no magic bullet to shift a status quo that has existed for centuries, but we see this initiative as an important step. We know that change requires real commitment to intentional hiring and to providing young women with consistent training and mentorship. We aren’t here to tell anyone who to hire, but we have seen repeatedly that the simple act of making sure diverse candidates are always seen and considered makes it more likely that women will get the opportunities they previously have been denied. It’s one step everyone can take that could go a long way to catalyzing important change that is overdue in this industry.”

More than 200 artists, producers, labels, agencies, management companies and other stakeholders, including Justin Bieber, Cardi B, Common, Andra Day, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, John Legend, Shawn Mendes, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Pink, Post Malone, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and others have already signed on to the initiative.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career to surround myself with powerful female figures,” said artist Katy Perry. “I’m proud to have a female engineer run my own Unsub Studios. I pledge to support this great initiative to provide even more opportunity to talented female producers and engineers.”

Artist and task force member Common noted, “As an artist and member of the Recording Academy, I’m proud to join this pledge and appreciate the work of the task force to bring this forward. Women deserve as much opportunity as men, and we know this industry has not always been fair. The only way to change these inequities is for us to face it directly and commit to do more.”

Recording Academy •