The Grammy Awards launches #Changemusic initiative to give Black artists more clout in music industry

The Recording Academy said Black contributions to the industry have historically been undervalued

FILE - The red carpet appears prior to the start of the 62nd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2020. The Grammys are changing the name of its best world music album category to the best global music album, an attempt to find “a more relevant, modern and inclusive term.” The Recording Academy said the new name “symbolizes a departure from the connotations of colonialism.” The step comes some five months after the Academy made changes to several Grammy Awards categories, including renaming the best urban contemporary album category as best progressive R&B album.  (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

The organisers of the Grammy awards on Thursday launched an initiative to elevate Black voices at all levels of the music industry and ensure that Black artists are fairly compensated for their work.

The #ChangeMusic Roadmap, launched by the Recording Academy and racial justice non-profit Colour of Change, said that Black contributions to the industry have historically been undervalued.

Black artists "have created styles of music, the culture, the trends, and the success of this business - yet too often are left unheralded and excluded from the rooms in which the most important decisions are made," organisers said.

The initiative follows a cultural reckoning that was spurred by nationwide street protests this summer over systemic racism and pressure on the music business to improve the numbers of Black people in its corporate ranks.

Rap and R&B music overtook rock in 2017 to become the biggest music genre in the United States, but there are only a handful of Black executives in senior jobs within the industry.

61st Grammy Awards - Show - Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 10, 2019 - Drake wins Best Rap Song for "God's Plan". REUTERS/Mike Blake

The Recording Academy, which votes on the Grammys, has come under fire in recent years from the likes of Drake, Jay-Z and Kanye West for seeming to favour white artists. In more than 60 years of the Grammys, only two hip-hop albums have ever won album of the year and the last Black artist to win the coveted accolade was Herbie Hancock in 2008.

The new follows The Recording Academy’s launch of the Black Music Collective in October, which came in response to the criticism.

The #ChangeMusic Roadmap calls for the fair distribution of royalties, an examination of old recording contracts for potential inequities, anti-racist training, annual reports on pay disparities and an increase in the numbers of Black people in leadership positions.

"This moment offers an unparalleled opportunity to change patterns of exclusion and degradation," the Recording Academy and Colour of Change said in a joint statement.