Grammys CEO Harvey Mason Jr. is expanding upon the sweeping changes that the Recording Academy has implemented in response to much-publicized controversies and criticism, including by developing plans to “enhance our awards processes from the inside out.”
Harvey Mason Jr., who began leading the Grammys on an interim basis in the wake of Deborah Dugan’s shocking allegations early last year, reiterated his reform-minded vision for the award show in a formal release today. Said release was published to announce two executive appointments, part of a broader “transformational period at the Recording Academy as the organization evolves to better serve its membership and the music industry at-large.”
“Effective immediately,” the 64-year-old Recording Academy – which laid off more than a dozen team members last October – has named Ruby Marchand chief awards and industry officer and upped Joanna Chu to VP of awards. Marchand in the expanded role will report to Academy co-president Valeisha Butterfield Jones, who was originally brought on as “chief diversity officer” in April of 2020.
The longtime Warner Music A&R exec Marchand will specifically work “to effect outreach to musical communities across the nation and beyond, bringing innovative new possibilities into the Awards process while ensuring their utmost integrity,” according to the Recording Academy’s release.
Joanna Chu, formerly an aerospace-industry software engineer and, more recently, director of the Recording Academy’s awards division, will lead “the team through all aspects of the Awards season” in her new position. Additionally, Chu is set to “report to Marchand and join her in reinforcing key Academy initiatives throughout the Awards process, with a special emphasis on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”
Addressing the appointments in a statement, Harvey Mason Jr. – who was named president and CEO of the Recording Academy on a full-time basis in May – said: “I am proud to welcome Ruby and Joanna into their new positions as we work to enhance our awards processes from the inside out.
“Their expertise in this space is highly valuable as we continue to refine the Recording Academy’s role in the music industry and work to provide the highest quality of service to our members,” he finished.
Moving forward, it’ll be worth seeing whether these and forthcoming changes will be enough to help the Grammys put an end to corruption allegations from artists and reverse a years-running trend of declining viewership.
On the latter front, the 2021 Grammys delivered the smallest television audience in Grammys history, and the Recording Academy then scheduled the 2022 edition on a Monday (as opposed to the usual Sunday) night. Furthermore, the 2020 Grammys telecast also turned in a lackluster performance with regard to watchers, as stars including Taylor Swift and Beyonce boycotted the happening following Dugan’s aforementioned allegations.
The changes made by the Recording Academy during the remainder of 2020 – such as renaming the “Best World Music Album” category to avoid “connotations of colonialism” and removing the term “urban” from award categories – were evidently enough for Swift and Beyonce to rethink their opinions of the event, for both attended the 63rd Grammys.
However, different criticism yet – including allegations of corruption from The Weeknd (who no longer submits his music to the Recording Academy), Halsey, and Zayn Malik – prompted the Grammys organizer this year to eliminate “secret” committees, retool its rules, and invite nearly 3,000 more voting members.