Recording Academy Announces Inclusion Rider For GRAMMYs 2022

Kaytranada with his two GRAMMY awards for best dance recording and dance electronic album in 2021 for his album Bubba. Kaytranada with his two GRAMMY awards for best dance recording and dance electronic album in 2021 for his album Bubba.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

The Recording Academy continues to make strides to create a more diverse and inclusive GRAMMY award show. On August 4, The Recording Academy announced The GRAMMYs will be the first major music awards show to publicly commit to implement an inclusion rider for 2022.

A fairly new concept, an inclusion rider is a stipulation in a contract created to ensure diversity and inclusion at every level of production. The push came from Stacy L. Smith in 2014, who wrote an op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter, calling for gender equality, and subsequently founded the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the leading global think tank studying issues of inequality in entertainment. In 2018, Frances McDormand again pressed for inclusion riders in the film industry with her moving speech at the Oscars.

The Recording Academy is currently partnering with Color of Change and other co-authors to create the inclusion rider for next year’s GRAMMYs as a part of the #ChangeMusic Initiative. The full inclusion rider will be made available to the public on September 16, 2021.

CEO of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr., says, "We're honored to work alongside Color Of Change and the Inclusion Rider's esteemed co-authors as we take this monumental step to ensure equitable industry standards that support a more diverse and inclusive music community. As the Academy continues its transformational journey, diversifying our industry is at the core of every decision we make. We're dedicated to fostering an environment of inclusion industry-wide and hope that our efforts set an example for our peers in the music community."

The Recording Academy’s official website states the motive behind the new addendum:

The Recording Academy will add the Inclusion Rider as an addendum to a contract between itself and the production company for the GRAMMY Awards. This addendum is a contractual obligation for the production company to make its best effort to recruit, audition, interview, and hire on-stage and off-stage people who have been historically and systematically excluded from the industry.

What does the incorporation of an inclusion rider at the GRAMMYS mean for the music industry?

The contract’s co-author and civil rights attorney, Kalpana Kotgal explains, "Incorporating the Inclusion Rider into the GRAMMY Awards will have an enormous impact on an industry that has a long history of exclusion and underrepresentation. Part of what makes the Inclusion Rider so potent is its adaptability and flexibility. The GRAMMY Awards Inclusion Rider will include the fundamental elements of the tool, including a commitment to deepening and diversifying hiring pools, setting benchmarks and targets for hiring, collecting and thoroughly analyzing applicant and hiring data and implementing accountability measures."

Color of Change president Rashad Robinson adds, "There are a lot of unwritten rules in the entertainment industry that create racial exclusion, and at Color Of Change, we know that to change society you have to change the rules. This Inclusion Rider is a written rule that will change the culture of hiring at the GRAMMYs, and will make inclusion the norm. We are proud to partner with the Recording Academy and hope that this joint effort inspires other entertainment industry leaders to join us in our fight for equity by adopting the Inclusion Rider."

This is a huge step in the right direction for the music industry. And there’s hope that the dance music industry can follow suit swiftly to implement inclusion riders for festival lineups, production staff, and on agent and management teams. Let’s continue to strive to be the welcoming and accepting community that the dance music scene was built upon and make the music industry a better place.