The Recording Academy—the organization behind “music’s biggest night,” the Grammys—are trying to do better to clean up house, following a string of messy controversies in the past year, including a public boycott announcement from The Weeknd and the former CEO Deborah Dugan accusing the elite organization’s big awards show of being “rigged.”
On Tuesday, the Recording Academy announced that it will be implementing an inclusion rider for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards (set to take place on Jan. 31, 2022), making it the first major music awards show to do so.
As a reminder, an inclusion rider is basically a stipulation that mandates a certain percentage of diversity for a certain project. If your project doesn’t mean the required diversity standards? Flag on the play—that’s a violation of the contract! You may have heard that term on this site when Michael B. Jordan made industry waves with his initiative established in 2018.
The addendum, which will be an agreement between the Recording Academy and the production company behind the Grammy Awards, is described as “a contractual obligation for the production company to make its best effort to recruit, audition, interview, and hire on-stage and off-stage people who have been historically and systematically excluded from the industry.”
Via the Recording Academy’s press release sent to The Root:
Currently in development, the Inclusion Rider is part of the larger #ChangeMusic initiative and is being created in partnership with Color Of Change, as well as co-authors Kalpana Kotagal (partner, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll), Fanshen Cox (head of strategic outreach, Pearl Street Films), and key contributors Valeisha Butterfield Jones (Co-President, Recording Academy) and Ryan Butler (founding director, Warner Music | Blavatnik Center for Music Business at Howard University). Poised to be the first major music awards show production to publicly commit to using an Inclusion Rider, the Recording Academy’s adoption for the GRAMMY Awards illustrates the adaptability and expansion of a tool that was originally developed to address systemic diversity and equity issues in film and television.
“We’re honored to work alongside Color Of Change and the Inclusion Rider’s esteemed co-authors as we take this monumental step to ensure equitable industry standards that support a more diverse and inclusive music community,” Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy said in a statement. “As the Academy continues its transformational journey, diversifying our industry is at the core of every decision we make. We’re dedicated to fostering an environment of inclusion industry-wide and hope that our efforts set an example for our peers in the music community.”
“There are a lot of unwritten rules in the entertainment industry that create racial exclusion, and at Color Of Change, we know that to change society you have to change the rules,” Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change, added in a statement. “This Inclusion Rider is a written rule that will change the culture of hiring at the Grammys, and will make inclusion the norm. We are proud to partner with the Recording Academy and hope that this joint effort inspires other entertainment industry leaders to join us in our fight for equity by adopting the Inclusion Rider.”
Now, what we don’t know yet is the exact language included inside the inclusion rider. However, you can mark your calendars because the full rider will be released publicly on Sept. 16, 2021.