Music Execs Push for Inclusion at Billboard Power 100 Event

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Lucian Grainge

The Grammy week event celebrated power players in the industry, including honorees Lucian Grainge and Martin Bandier.

A celebration Thursday evening of the eighth annual Billboard Power 100 came with a pledge to address the enduring gender imbalance of power in the music industry.

Billboard’s executive of the year Lucian Grainge, chairman/CEO of Universal Music Group, and Sony/ATV chairman/CEO Martin Bandier, recipient of this year’s Clive Davis Visionary Award, led the A-list of honorees and well-wishers who packed the Avra Beverly Hills, along with rising executives recognized in the magazine’s inaugural New Power Generation list.

But this year’s party also offered a high-profile platform for Dr. Stacy L. Smith of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to recap her research into gender disparities in the music business—and for announcements of support from UMG and Billboard’s parent company, Valence Media, for the inclusion initiatives of the non-profit group She Is The Music.

In her opening remarks to the gathering, Billboard editorial director Hannah Karp offered praise for the industry leaders who, in the past year, “came together to fight for causes bigger than their own,” citing the passage of the Music Modernization Act, the decision of music companies to share Spotify stock profits with artists and the demand for greater levels of inclusion throughout the music industry.

“We’re looking forward to watching you, as leaders, continue to use your powers for positive change for the music business in 2019,” said Karp.

Neil Portnow, the outgoing president/CEO of the Recording Academy, which will present the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday (Feb. 10), noted the academy’s partnership with Billboard in making the Power 100 party an official Grammy Week event. Portnow then introduced “a true legend who really needs no introduction” — Clive Davis, chief creative officer of Sony Music.

In presenting Bandier with the award named in his honor, Davis expressed “great pride, respect and warm affection” to the veteran music publisher. He noted that Bandier first led EMI Music Publishing to market leadership, did the same for many years as head of Sony/ATV, then last November helped lead Sony Music’s acquisition of EMI. “What a personal [and] professional triumph,” said Davis.

“I would like to think that, in my time in the music business, the impact that I have had on the lives and careers of other people has been just as important as my own accomplishments,” said Bandier. He explained he was thinking particularly of three executives who had previously worked for him, each now leading one of the three major music publishers—incoming Sony/ATV chairman/CEO Jon Platt, Jody Gerson, global chairman/CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group and Guy Moot, incoming co-chair/CEO of Warner/Chappell Music Publishing. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of the fact that … all graduated from the Bandier School of Music Publishing and Hard Knocks,” quipped Bandier, “which – I should point out – was a tuition-free school and you actually got paid for being there.”

The evening’s tone of congratulations shifted to one of concern as Karp introduced Smith, whom she called “a new power player in our industry, whose critical research is helping address — and potentially solve — one of our biggest problems, the lack of diversity, inclusion and gender parity both at the executive level and on the charts.” She added: “The data is not pretty.”

In a short but pointed summary of the report issued Feb. 5, Smith told the assembled industry leaders: “When it comes to women, less than a quarter of all popular artists are female, less than 15 percent of songwriters [are women] and a mere two to three percent of producers and engineers are women.”

But Smith also had positive news to share, announcing that the data gathered by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative — 400 credited female artists, writers and producers from Billboard’s Hot 100 year-end charts — would be combined with the comprehensive directory of women working in music compiled by She In The Music (SITM), the nonprofit driving equality, inclusivity and opportunity for women in music.

“We're dedicated to making She Is The Music’s database the industry gold standard,” said Smith, describing the initiative as “the first major step to creating a quality and long lasting change in the music business.”

Deanna Brown, managing director of Valence Media, the parent company of Billboard, told the Power 100 gathering that Valence would commit “technology resources and our own platforms” — as well as $25,000 to further support SITM’s work. This issue “is near and dear to my heart,” said Brown.

Grainge, in accepting his executive of the year honor, announced that UMG would make an additional $25,000 pledge to the SITM database and another $25,000 to the organization’s mentorship program.

The UMG chairman/CEO said his recognition atop this year’s Billboard Power 100 was “an honor I share with all of my label heads, country heads, the UMG management team and, of course, all the incredible entrepreneurs who work within the Universal family. It's fabulous for us to be here tonight.

“There is an enormous amount of power in this room,” said Grainge. “ Let's put all of the power to good use and continue the good work. But, we've just started. So thank you very much indeed to everyone.”