The Time’s Up movement came to the Grammy Awards on Jan. 28. Taking the stage on music’s biggest night, Janelle Monáe proclaimed that women “come in peace, but we mean business.” In response to criticism of the male-dominated awards show — Alessia Cara was the only woman to win a major category during the broadcast — Recording Academy president Neil Portnow claimed that women need to “step up” if they want more recognition. Facing criticism from many — including Grammy winner Pink — Portnow walked back on the comments on Jan. 30, saying he used words that “do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make.” Since then, various women in the music industry have signed a letter calling on Portnow to step aside.
On Thursday, 38 male executives spoke out in solidarity with their female colleagues. In a letter signed by talent agents, managers, and lawyers within the music industry, a group of men have called on Portnow to take “more significant and robust action” to answer the call to end gender disparity. Among the signees were Randy Jackson, producer and former American Idol judge, and Scooter Braun, manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
The collective statement cites a study from USC Annenberg in noting, “From 2013 to 2018, of almost 900 Grammy nominations, 90 percent were male and less than 10 percent were female.” Out of the 84 categories included at the Grammy Awards, the study in question, “Inclusion in the Recording Studio?“, examined only the Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Producer of the Year, and Best New Artist Grammy categories from 2013-18. Of those, 90.7 percent of the honorees were male, though the 899 total nominees researched comprised the individuals and band members recognized for the award and not the entire engineer or production teams behind them. Even then, the study confirmed a stark contrast between the number of men and women recognized at the Grammys.
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The letter further called for the Recording Academy to dedicate itself “to transforming its member base to truly mirror the rich gender and cultural diversity of our community. NARAS should reveal the diversity (and/or the lack thereof) of its voting members and make necessary changes to the population of the Academy to better reflect the diverse music business voices the organization is meant to serve.”
The Recording Academy did not immediately provide EW with a comment about the letter. Read it in full below.