Recording Academy Defends Female Representation at Grammys

Neil Portnow - Grammys - Getty - H 2018
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After criticism, a letter sent Thursday to voting and non-voting members cites statistics to show that women had a larger presence at the recent awards ceremony compared to the industry standard.

After a few missteps, The Recording Academy is reassuring its members that it is not lagging behind the music industry when it comes to female representation.

In a letter sent Thursday to voting and non-voting members, which was obtained by the Associated Press, the Academy offers statistics to show that women had a larger presence at the Grammy Awards compared to the industry standard.

The letter to Academy members comes weeks after a University of Southern California study analyzed gender and race in music over the last six years, including Grammy nominees.

Between 2012 and 2017, the study said 90.7 percent of the Grammy nominees were male and 9.3 percent were female. The numbers come from five awards: album of the year, record of the year, song of the year, best new artist and non-classical producer of the year — an award where female nominees are a rarity.

However, in looking at the same six years in all of 84 Grammy categories, the academy said that 17 percent of its nominees were women.

USC's study reports that women account for 22.4 percent of performers, 12.3 percent of songwriters and 2 percent of producers.

Women make up 21 percent of the academy's voting membership.

The Recording Academy was heavily criticized last month when CEO Neil Portnow said women need to "step up" when he was asked about the lack of female winners at the 2018 Grammys. The exec later said his words were taken out of context, though three separate letters from music executives demanded a revamp at the Academy.

The Grammys telecast was also under fire for not letting Lorde, the only woman nominated for album of the year, perform at its 60th show last month.

"The gender composition of our membership and nominations reflect that of the music community. But it's not enough to reflect the community. We must be leaders in moving our industry toward greater inclusion and representation," the letter reads. "Women are 50 percent of our world. We need their voice and presence at every level."