After Recording Academy president Neil Portnow came under fire from various singers in the industry for stating female artists need to "step up" in order to be recognized, the GRAMMYs are now attempting to combat the backlash with an open letter that defends its representation of women.
In a letter sent to voting and non-voting members on Thursday, the academy offers statistics to show that women had a larger presence at the awards show compared to the industry standard. “The gender composition of our membership and nominations reflect that of the music community. But it’s not enough to reflect the community. We must be leaders in moving our industry toward greater inclusion and representation,” the letter reads. “Women are 50 percent of our world. We need their voice and presence at every level.”
Acknowledging that women need to be recognized in the industry is one thing, but what steps will the Recording Academy take to ensure they actually support these women? In the wake of the Time's Up movement where more women are taking a stand, action is way more significant than a letter. Portnow and the rest of the academy members still have to be aware of how they plan to positively recover from this controversy.
"Regrettably, I used two words, 'step up,' that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make. Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced," Portnow said in a response to his previous statement. "We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them."
Based on University of Southern California's study that analyzed gender and race in music over the last six years, it was shown that between 2012 and 2017, 90.7 percent of the GRAMMY nominees were male and 9.3 percent were female. That staggering statistic is more than enough proof that this industry needs to change. Let's hope the academy finally uses their power to to make that first step.
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