The Recording Academy released a rider to its production agreement that will affirm its commitment to “equity and inclusion” in hiring at all levels of production, according to a report from the Associated Press.
As reported by the AP, the Academy issued an 8-page document detailing the rider’s goals and objectives. The rider instructs the producers of the 64th annual awards show to “recruit and hire more diverse candidates backstage and in front of the camera,” from demographic groups “that have been historically and systematically excluded from the industry.” The rider was initially adopted in August, after Frances McDormand mentioned it during her acceptance speech for best actress at the Oscars.
Harvey Mason Jr., the CEO of the Recording Academy, expressed pride in the initiative and hope that it would “move the needle” within the industry.
“The inclusion rider is something that will provide an opportunity for people that may not have had one before,” said Mason in an interview. “That’s really important to me. I wouldn’t be here if someone didn’t give me an opportunity. I’m trying to make pathways and make sure there’s areas for people to work into a system and climb their way through.”
The rider was co-authored by writer and speaker Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni and civil rights lawyer Kalpana Kotagal, and created with the help of several groups including the civil rights activist group Color of Change; Ryan Butler, founding director of Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music Business at Howard University; and Recording Academy co-president Valeisha Butterfield Jones.
Kotagal told the AP that the rider will seek to improve representation and equity in four ways:
- Diversifying hiring pools,
- Hiring benchmarks
- Data collection and analysis
- Strict accountability measures.
“By committing to use the inclusion rider for its 2022 production, the Grammy Awards is not only ensuring a more equitable and diverse hiring process, it is also setting an important standard for inclusivity and representation at award shows moving forward,” she said in a statement.
The 2021 Grammy awards were fraught with controversy over the lack of diversity in the nominations. Three artists declined their nominations for Best Children’s Album because all the nominees were white. One of the artists, Joe Mailander of the band Okee Dokee Brothers, said he “thought that it was the strongest thing we could do, to stand with people of color whose albums are too often left out of the Grammy nominations. … This is not just white guys with guitars playing for kids. We want to welcome all different types of music to this community.”
The Grammys also suffered bitterly in ratings. The 2021 awards program, which featured an explicit performance of “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, Harry Styles in feather boas, and Trevor Noah cracking jokes about the January 6 Capitol incident, took a steep dive in ratings, garnering only 8.8 million viewers across multiple platforms, about half of the previous record low of 16.9 million in 2006, and a decline of 10 million viewers from the 2020 Grammys, which pulled 18.8 million viewers.
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