Grammy Awards pledge to make show more diverse with 'inclusion' contract

The Recording Academy has vowed to increase representation on and off stage for the January 2022 ceremony

The Grammy Awards show has committed to hiring a diverse team of people working on and off stage to produce the highest honours in the music industry, organisers said on Wednesday.

The Recording Academy said it was adding a so-called "inclusion rider" to its contract with producers of the January 2022 Grammy ceremony to boost diversity at every level.

The inclusion rider will oblige the company that produces the show 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".

The Recording Academy said it would be the first major music awards show to commit to using an inclusion rider.

The move is part of wider efforts to elevate black voices at all levels of the music business following a cultural reckoning spurred by the nationwide protests over systemic racism in the US in 2020.

Rap and RnB is the dominant music genre in the US but only a handful of black executives are at senior levels in the industry.

Inclusion riders were first adopted in the film and television industry some three years ago as contract extensions that stipulate the numbers of women and people of colour working in front of and behind the camera on individual projects. They have since been extended to cover age, disability and sexual orientation.

"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," Recording Academy Chief Executive Harvey Mason Jr said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Recording Academy is partnering with racial justice nonprofit Colour of Change on the inclusion rider initiative.

The news comes months after the Grammy Awards voted to remove its anonymous nomination review committees – groups that determined the contenders for key awards at the coveted music show – following criticism.

The Recording Academy made the announcement in May, with nominees now based purely on votes made by the academy's 11,000-strong voting members.

The major change comes months after The Weeknd blasted the Grammys and called them "corrupt" after he earned zero nominations for the 2021 show, despite having the year's biggest single with Blinding Lights.

Updated: August 5th 2021, 12:51 PM
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