California Passes The Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act: Why It's A Win For The First Amendment & Creative Expression
Nas performing at the 2022 GRAMMYs

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


California Passes The Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act: Why It's A Win For The First Amendment & Creative Expression

The California State Senate just passed the modest, common-sense act unanimously, which now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign it into law.

Advocacy/Aug 26, 2022 - 10:03 pm

Remember the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act (AB 2799), the California bill which was created to protect the First Amendment Rights of artists and stop the use of an artist's lyrics or creative expressions as evidence during criminal and civil proceedings?

The California State Senate just passed it — unanimously, after the California General Assembly did the same earlier this year. The bill now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk to be signed into law in the coming days.

For the Recording Academy, the legislation has been a priority of their ongoing advocacy efforts this year. While the bill is California-specific, it has the potential to set an example for the rest of the nation and mirrors other efforts already underway such as the federal RAP Act — which the Academy has also been closely involved with.

"Not having this legislation has allowed people to utilize people's creativity and lyrics against them when we know that's not fair," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. recently said. "I don't think anybody in the studio when they're in their cars in their garage or when they're writing music, they shouldn't be thinking about, 'Is this going to be something that I shouldn't say in art and music?'"

"We should be able to express ourselves," Mason continued. "We should be able to say things that are on our minds and our hearts or in our imaginations without fear of somebody bringing this up in a courtroom."

To summarize the California bill, AB 2799 will protect artists from having their creative expression used against them as evidence in a criminal trial. The use of creative expression, specifically rap lyrics, in criminal proceedings has been an ongoing issue since the early 1990s.

There have been hundreds of cases where rap lyrics have been used to build criminal cases against artists, claiming that aggressive or violent lyrics are indicative of an artist's behavior.

But AB 2799 is about more than just rap lyrics. Music, literature, film, and all works of creative expression should be protected by the First Amendment.

The legislation is a modest and common-sense bill that will limit the use of creative expression as evidence in a trial and help protect artists and creators from unfair bias. It ensures that all artists are able to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal from the justice system simply because of the content of their art or because of biases held against their chosen art form.

AB 2799 is the first legislation of its kind to pass a state legislature and head to a Governor to become law. A similar bill was considered in New York earlier this year and will likely be reintroduced in 2023. And at the federal level, the Restoring Artistic Protection (RAP) Act was introduced in July by Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY).

The Academy will continue to advocate to ensure AB 2799 is signed into law and to advance the RAP Act in Congress. Watch this space for more news on both fronts, and to keep up with Recording Academy Advocacy's fight for the rights of all music creators.

The RAP (Restoring Artistic Protection) Act Has Been Introduced In The House. Here's What It Means For Artists' First Amendment Rights.

Watch Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. Appear On "Drop The Mic: The Business Of Music" Panel

Harvey Mason jr.

Photo courtesy of the Milken Institute


Watch Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. Appear On "Drop The Mic: The Business Of Music" Panel

Comprising more than 180 public and private sessions, Milken Institute Global Conference 2022 featured a captivating panel called "Drop The Mic: The Business Of Music" — featuring Mason alongside other music business leaders.

Recording Academy/May 17, 2022 - 06:33 pm

The Recording Academy's very own CEO, Harvey Mason Jr., just got deep on the mechanics of the music biz. On May 4, Mason participated in the Milken Institute Global Conference 2022, appearing on the panel "Drop the Mic: The Business of Music."

Moderated by Shirley Halperin and featuring additional speakers Marc Cimino (Chief Operating Officer, Universal Music Publishing Group), Sherrese Clarke Soares (Founder and CEO, HarbourView Equity Partners) and Scott Pascucci (Chief Executive Officer, Concord), "Drop The Mic" explored how the music business has expanded beyond playing records and attending live concerts.

In 2022 and beyond, the industry encompasses downloads, catalog buys, creative NFTs that serve as souvenirs, virtual experiences, and a whole lot more. In the below video, captivating speakers detail how we can follow these developments into a brave new world for music and music people.

Comprising more than 180 public and private sessions, Milken Institute Global Conference 2022 featured nearly 2,000 attendees participating in-person — along with thousands more viewing the livestream from around the world.

Enjoy the video, which clocks in at more than an hour, and keep checking for updates on how the music business continues to evolve, flourish and thrive as a nurturer of the world.

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How The Recording Academy's 2022 New Membership Class Reflects Its Ongoing Commitment To Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The Recording Academy

Graphic: The Recording Academy


How The Recording Academy's 2022 New Membership Class Reflects Its Ongoing Commitment To Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Composed of nearly 2,000 diverse music creators and professionals, the 2022 New Member Class signals the organization's continued progress toward cultivating a community that embodies the ethnicities, genres and crafts that power the music industry.

Recording Academy/Sep 9, 2022 - 04:52 pm

Like never before, the Recording Academy is committed to cultivating a community that embodies the ethnicities, genres and crafts that power the music industry. And this continued progress is beautifully reflected in the Recording Academy's 2022 New Member Class, which is composed of nearly 2,000 diverse music creators and professionals.

Of the invitees who accepted their Recording Academy membership invitation, sent to more than 2,700 music professionals in June, 44% are from traditionally underrepresented communities; 47% are under the age of 40; 32% are women; and 52% are male. The remaining 16% are composed of individuals who identify as non-binary and those who opted not to disclose.

The complete statistics surrounding the demographics of the Recording Academy's 2022 New Member Class can be found here and below.

The 2022 New Member Class marks four years since the Recording Academy transitioned to a community-driven and peer-reviewed annual cycle. This was in an effort to create a more diverse and engaged membership base representative of the ever-evolving musical landscape.

Since implementing the new model in 2019, the number of women members has increased by 19%, and membership among traditionally underrepresented communities has increased by 38% — now accounting for 31% and 33% of the Recording Academy's current membership, respectively.

Furthermore, the Recording Academy has added 1,913 women to its Voting Membership since 2019 and is now 77% of the way to reaching its goal of adding 2,500 women Voting Members by 2025.

Graphic showing statistics of the Recording Academy's 2022 new membership class demographics

In an annual address to the organization's membership body, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. highlighted the significance of Academy membership and each constituent's unique opportunity to create a lasting impact on the music community. In the address, Mason also highlighted key initiatives and milestones for the Academy and welcomed the organization's 2022 New Member Class.

"After years of listening, learning and putting in the work, we're beginning to see results of our efforts to diversify the Academy's membership come to life," Mason stated in his address. "Our members are the lifeblood of this organization, powering everything we do from the inside out. When we have diverse people representing all corners of the industry contributing unique perspectives, progress is achieved at a rapid pace.

"The journey is just beginning," he continued, "and I can't wait to work alongside our new and existing members to build on the Academy's commitment to effecting real, meaningful change."

The annual member address also underlined a series of further milestones, including the five new GRAMMY Awards categories created in June and to be awarded at the upcoming 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards: Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical; Best Alternative Music Performance; Best Americana Performance; Best Score Soundtrack For Video Games And Other Interactive Media; and Best Spoken Word Poetry Album.

Just as monumental is the newly announced Best Song For Social Change award, a Special Merit Award curated by a Blue Ribbon Committee, which is now accepting submissions through Friday, Oct. 7.

Mason's address also underscored the Recording Academy's efforts in leading the fight for the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act in California and the RAP (Restoring Artistic Protection) Act on the federal level that would restrict the use of rap lyrics and other creative works in court. (Today is the deadline for Recording Academy members to register for District Advocate Day 2022, taking place on Thursday, Oct. 6. Learn more about and register for District Advocate Day here.)

Aside from submitting product for GRAMMY Awards consideration and voting during the GRAMMY Awards process, Recording Academy members can propose amendments to GRAMMY Awards rules; run for a Recording Academy Board position or Committee; vote in Chapter elections; support fellow musicians through Advocacy efforts and MusiCares initiatives; engage with the Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing and Songwriters & Composers Wing; and much more.

Learn more about the Recording Academy's membership process and requirements. And keep checking for more information and news about exciting developments regarding our Recording Academy membership initiatives and members, the beating heart of this society of music people.

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The Recording Academy Turns 65: A Nod To Its Beginnings And A Commitment To A New Era

(L-R) Panos A. Panay, Harvey Mason jr. and Valeisha Butterfield Jones

Photo Courtesy of the Recording Academy®/photo by Matt Winkelmeyer by Getty Images © 2021


The Recording Academy Turns 65: A Nod To Its Beginnings And A Commitment To A New Era

This weekend brings a happy milestone: The Recording Academy will turn 65. Together, let’s remind ourselves of the organization’s beginnings and redouble our commitment to all music people going forward.

Recording Academy/May 27, 2022 - 08:00 pm

Over the weekend, the Recording Academy will hit a quiet yet significant milestone: 65 years will have passed since its inception. How does one even come to terms with the enormity of this legacy? 

No online post could encapsulate everything that’s happened with the Recording Academy since 1957 — a year Eisenhower was president, Elvis reigned in the charts, and the Space Race heated up.

Still, it’s worth pausing and considering how the seeds were sown all those years ago and how the Recording Academy is flourishing as a renewed organization in 2022.

1955: The First Seeds

In response to a request from the Hollywood Beautification Committee, five top L.A.-based record executives met on April 28 to determine names of artists worthy of their own star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame.

In attendance were Paul Weston of Columbia, Lloyd Dunn of Capitol, Sonny Burke of Decca, Jesse Kaye of MGM, and Dennis Farnon of RCA Victor. The focus was to develop criteria to use as a "yardstick" to determine which names should be submitted.

This meeting also illustrated the growing importance of having a "proper means for rewarding people on an artistic level" — similar to the motion picture and TV groups. This group later became known as the Founder's Committee.

On May 20, Paul Weston presented criteria on how to best determine which artists should receive a star to the other members of the Founder's Committee. The total number of record sales was the primary benchmark used to select artists for this project.

1957: The Academy’s Beginning

On May 28, The Founder's Committee met again: "A Group to Form a Record Award Society" convened at the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood.

The meeting opened with a general discussion of the classifications for which awards should be given and current procedures. The name agreed upon for this new organization? The Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Dunn made the motion that "James Conkling become temporary chairman of the committee for the formation of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences."  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weston and carried unanimously. 

Questions and concerns regarding the criteria to be used as a benchmark for the Hollywood Beautification Committee were discussed — and in attendance with the Founder's Committee was former Columbia Records president James B. Conkling.

Flash Forward To 2022

When asked about the incredible strides the Recording Academy has made in recent years, CEO Harvey Mason Jr. offered a rejoinder.

“That'll take up the whole interview — we don't have time for all the positive developments!” he told with a smile. “The great work that MusiCares has been doing over the last however many months during COVID. The way we're changing our membership. The way we're inviting members. The way we're constituting our boardroom. The way we're working in education initiatives. Our internship program; the Black Music Collective; our advocacy work at the GRAMMY Museum.”

Mason went on to touch on a crucial tentpole of the Recording Academy: diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). This commitment to giving all music people a fair shake manifests in communications, artist outreach, leadership, and so many other avenues.

For more information on the Recording Academy’s astounding developments in service to the global music community, check out the article “New Vision, New Era, One Academy” in the 2022 GRAMMYs program book on page 130.

And this weekend, let’s ring in the Recording Academy’s 65th birthday — both with a nod to the past, but a renewed commitment to render service to all music people in the years to come.

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The Recording Academy Appoints Harvey Mason Jr. As President/CEO

Harvey Mason jr.

Photo Courtesy of Harvey Mason jr.



The Recording Academy Appoints Harvey Mason Jr. As President/CEO

Following his transformational work as Interim President/CEO since 2020, the appointment removes the interim title and will enable Harvey Mason Jr. to continue the Recording Academy's drive for meaningful change across the organization

Recording Academy/May 14, 2021 - 12:49 am

The Recording Academy's Board of Trustees has appointed Harvey Mason jr., as the Academy's President/CEO, effective June 1. Mason has been in the position on an unpaid, interim basis since January 2020, prior to which he was Chair of the Academy's Board, a position he will now relinquish. His appointment as President/CEO recognizes his achievements in transforming the Academy in mission-critical ways.

In a joint statement, search committee co-chairs John Burk and Leslie Ann Jones said: "We are delighted that Harvey will remain at the helm and continue to steer the organization through this pivotal time. As we journeyed deeper into our extensive search, it became clear that the best person for the job was Harvey. We are immensely impressed by the remarkable work he has done during his interim tenure and look forward to the continued evolution of the Academy under his effective, results-driven leadership."

"I want to commend the search committee and our partners at Heidrick and Struggles for orchestrating a robust and exhaustive search for our next President and CEO," said Tammy Hurt, Vice Chair of the Recording Academy. "I am not surprised that they faced a significant challenge in finding candidates that would meet the standard that has been set by Harvey during these past 16 months. He has led the Academy through one of the most difficult periods in our history. As a music creator himself, he has provided hope, inspiration and a vision for the future that we are well on our way to achieving. We are all thrilled that he has agreed to become our permanent CEO and will continue to lead us into the future."

During Mason's tenure, the Academy has improved the transparency of the GRAMMY Awards process, made important changes to voting procedures, and has made strides towards ensuring a more diverse and inclusive membership body. Additionally, the Academy launched a new Songwriters & Composers Wing and the Black Music Collective.

Shortly after Mason was appointed as Interim President/CEO, the Academy confronted the unexpected challenge of COVID-19 and the disruption it caused to the livelihoods of so many Academy members and the music community. Under his leadership, MusiCares raised and distributed over $24 million to help struggling music creators through the crisis, and the Academy advocated effectively in Washington for relief. Despite that ongoing challenge, Mason continued the Academy's internal transformation, as it implemented the final recommendations of its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, hired its first-ever Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and conducted an organizational restructure.

Although a search committee of the Academy's Board worked with a leading search firm and considered numerous candidates for the position, the committee and the Board as a whole concluded that no candidate matched Mason's combination of skills and experience: a GRAMMY-nominated creator, an entrepreneur, and a transformational leader. Mason will not retain his role as Board Chair, and will take appropriate steps to prevent any conflict of interest with his business, Harvey Mason Media.

"There is nothing more rewarding than having the trust and respect of your colleagues and peers," Mason said.  "I am honored to have been appointed to continue to lead the Recording Academy on our transformative journey. While I had not initially expected to be in this position, I remain deeply invested in the success of the organization and am motivated to help us achieve our greatest ambitions. I will serve humbly with a steadfast commitment to building a more inclusive, responsive and relevant Academy."

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