Grammy Awards 2024: Recording Academy Says 6% Of New Members Are Associated With Reggae

Of the over 2,400 music professionals who joined the Recording Academy in 2023, six percent (or at least 144) are associated with Reggae music, the organization has reported. This figure mirrors the 2022 statistics, when the Academy said it accepted 2,700 new members, with six percent linked to the Jamaican genre.

According to a report on its 2023 New Member Class, out of 22 genres, only Children’s Music (5%), Spoken Word (5%), and Comedy (1%) ranked lower than Reggae where voting representation is concerned.

Among the genres, Pop leads with 41% representation, followed by R&B (29%), Rock (23%), and Rap (22%).

The Recording Academy also revealed that songwriters/composers were heavily represented among the new cohort of Grammy-voting members, coming in at 64%. Other creative disciplines noticeably represented were vocalists (47%), producers (43%), instrumentalists (38%) and engineers (21%). Arrangers, music videographers, supervisors, conductors and spoken word artists were, among others, also found among new members.

The Best Reggae Album category, established in 1985, “recognizes excellence in albums of reggae music, including roots reggae, dancehall and ska music.” Eligible albums must contain “greater than 75% playing time of new reggae recordings.”

Come February 4, 2024, at the 66th annual Grammy Awards, five nominees, four of them Jamaicans, will contend for the award. They are Buju Banton (Born For Greatness), Beenie Man (Simma), Burning Spear (No Destroyer), Julian Marley (Colours of Royal), and American-born Bermudian Collie Budz (Cali Roots Riddim 2023).

Earlier this year, Len Brown, Senior Manager of Hip-Hop, R&B, and Reggae at the Recording Academy, had urged Jamaican musicians to register with the Academy, especially after the introduction of new categories like Best African Music Performance for the 2024 GRAMMYs. He emphasized that member participation is crucial for proposing new categories or making changes.

“If you’re not a member, you can’t make that proposal so therefore, nothing changes, which is why I want to spread that word of more people being a part of it, more people joining, so that way you have more of a community around when it comes time to create another category for Reggae and Dancehall. That only comes with participation and communication,” Brown told DancehallMag. “I feel like it’s next up, but we just need the right people in the community to help spearhead it.”

Several industry professionals, including Cristy Barber, a Grammy-nominated producer, have long advocated for Jamaican music professionals to join the Recording Academy as voting members.

In 2015, she had explained that: “[The problem with the Reggae Grammy] is that the people who represent reggae music 24/7 do not vote. The solution is that the people who represent reggae music 24/7, that have the creative credentials to do so, should register to vote. It’s as easy as that. The problem is the people that tend to vote in our category are not always necessarily 100% in the know of what is going on in our industry, and that’s why they tend to vote for the people they do know or their all-time favourites. That’s where the name-recognition situation happens.”

To become a voting member, a prospect – who has to be a music creative – must receive two strong recommendations from music industry peers. The creative will then be required to complete a career profile, which will be reviewed by the Academy’s Review Panel, before an invitation to join the Academy is extended.

According to the Academy, three membership types are offered: Voting Membership for recording creators, Professional Membership for music businesspeople, and GRAMMY U for the next generation aspiring to a career in the music industry.

In the meantime, amidst noting the accomplishments marked by the diverse 2,400 New Member Class of 2023, the president of the Academy, Harvey Mason Jr., remains mindful that there is still more work to be done on the representation front.

He shared: “While we celebrate our progress, we also acknowledge that there’s still more work that must be done. Our members play a crucial role in everything we do, so representation is integral to our mission of supporting and uplifting music makers. I’m thrilled to welcome this year’s new class and look forward to watching them engage with our Academy for years to come.”

The final round of voting for the 2024 Grammy Awards will take place from December 14 to January 4, 2024.

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