Music awards marred by lack of inclusion, diversity

The Weeknd brings attention to biased selection process after receiving no nominations for record-breaking album

By Sartaj Rajpal, Editor-in-Chief

Social media posts by both Drake and The Weeknd criticizing the Grammy Awards for a lack of transparency with the music industry are drawing attention to the Grammys’ biased awards selection process.

The Weeknd says the Grammys are “corrupt” after receiving no nominations for his chart-topping, record-breaking album “After Hours.”

His claim isn’t just sour grapes, and his anger is warranted. He deserved to win in one, if not two or three, categories. It’s not surprising that the Grammy Awards voting committee lacks the diversity necessary to adequately represent the entire
music industry.

The Recording Academy, which presents the Grammy Awards, and its constituents are fraught with duplicity, according to former Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan, who recently filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint alleging that selection committees were mainly comprised of Caucasian males during her time there.

“As of April 2018, women made up only 20% of the Academy’s Voting Members,” the complaint reads. “[A] lack of diversity in the voting membership was a serious problem.”

The homogeneity of the Grammy Awards’ selection committee reflects a lack of representation in the music industry as a whole.

In the entire history of the Grammy Awards, only 10 Black artists have won Album of the Year.

— Deborah Dugan

Only 9.3% of nominees for a Grammy Award between 2013 and 2018 were female, and women comprised just 22.4% of artists who had Billboard Hot 100 song entries, according to a study by the Annenberg School for Communication and

Visible minorities fare only slightly better than women in the Grammy Awards.

“The racial diversity numbers still reflected significant underrepresentation of the Asian-American and Hispanic communities in the membership,” the complaint reads. “In the entire history of the Grammy Awards, only 10 Black artists have won Album of the Year.”

As a person of color and an artist myself, I find it appalling that the Recording Academy, a company which is supposed to “represent the voices of performers, songwriters, producers, engineers, and all music professionals,” according to its website, still has entrenched partiality to majority groups.

The Weeknd was right for speaking out. It’s time for the Grammy Awards to become more inclusive. Voting committees should aim to uplift the most promising, talented artists irrespective of any external factors, be it race or gender.