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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Inside The Recording Academy “Change Music” Summit

3 min read

The Recording Academy® joined the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, Color Of Change, to host a virtual industrywide #ChangeMusic Summit on Oct. 1 with leaders in music and media. The summit is the latest in a series of initiatives facilitated by the Recording Academy to help accelerate equity and diverse representation within the organization and to further support inclusion outcomes across the music industry. The full summit can be viewed here.

“This is a crucial moment in our world, our nation and our society and it is now more important than ever that we bring people together to make progress on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion,” said Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason jr. “As leaders in the music industry, we have an opportunity as role models to lead by example and set a progressive tone for culture and society. We are honored that so many from the industry joined this important conversation and we’re committed to the work ahead.”

The event brought together leaders, executives and subject-matter experts for panels on shifting culture, amplifying diverse voices, leadership in action, and driving systemic change throughout the music community. Additionally, the Recording Academy and Color Of Change announced the forthcoming #ChangeMusic Roadmap, a tool to help people at all levels of the music industry take action to enact racial and social justice within the industry. The full roadmap will be released before the end of the year, however, the first aspect of the roadmap discussed was a needed commitment to transparent reporting on Black representation.

“Black artists’ rich contributions have undeniably shaped the music industry into what it is today. The industry must tear down the systems that silence, harm and pigeon-hole Black artists for profitable gains,” said Rashad Robinson, President of Color Of Change. “Everyone has the responsibility to work towards progress. The #ChangeMusic Roadmap will begin the process of giving the industry the tools to challenge injustice and enact tangible change now. The Recording Academy is setting a strong example for the industry from the inside, holding those in power accountable to change. Together, we can propel music into the equitable future Black artists have earned, and always deserved.”

Alongside the two organizational leaders, prominent culture trailblazers and music business leaders openly discussed best practices and strategies to encourage systemic change and elevate women, Black and Latinx, as well as all underrepresented music creators and professionals.

Participants included singer/songwriters LedisiRico Love and Maimouna “Mumu Fresh” Youssef; television personalities Rocsi Diaz and Jeff Johnson; music culture influencer Karen Civil; poet J. Ivy; and prominent executives and industry professionals including Tuma Basa (YouTube), Ingrid Best (Combs Enterprises), Binta Brown (omalilly projects; Black Music Action Coalition), Shari Bryant (Roc Nation), Jeff Burroughs (Def Jam Recordings), Ryan Butler (Recording Academy), Valeisha Butterfield Jones (Recording Academy), Qiana Conley (Recording Academy), Caroline “Baroline” Diaz (Interscope Records), Michelle Edgar (Epic Records; Music Unites; XX Project), Ethiopia Habtemariam (Motown Records; Capitol Music Group), Erin Hall Harris (Combs Enterprises), Tammy Hurt (Recording Academy), Jeriel Johnson (Recording Academy), Debra Lee (formerly BET Networks), Harvey Mason jr. (Recording Academy), Adam McFarland (Blacksmith Recordings; #TheShowMustBePaused), Riggs Morales (Atlantic Records), Jessica Rivera (YouTube), Rashad Robinson (Color Of Change), Travis Robinson (Universal Music Group), Lenny Santiago (Roc Nation), Rashid Shabazz (Color Of Change), Dr. Maurice Stinnett (Warner Music Group), Tiffany R. Warren (Omnicom Group; ADCOLOR), and Roe Williams (KWL Enterprises).

The Academy’s strategic alliance with Color Of Change and solidarity with ongoing social justice movements such as #TheShowMustBePaused was also a highly prioritized conversation topic among attendees.

Progress and future announcements regarding the Recording Academy’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts can be found here.