Recording Academy Appoints Ryan Butler As Vice President Of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Ryan Butler

Photo: Aaron Doggett for Visyoual Media


Recording Academy Appoints Ryan Butler As Vice President Of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Recording Academy announced today the appointment of Ryan Butler as Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, effective immediately. Butler leads DEI internally and externally for the Recording Academy and its affiliates.

Recording Academy/Mar 10, 2022 - 09:31 pm

The Recording Academy announced today the appointment of Ryan Butler as Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, effective immediately. Reporting to Co-President Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, Butler leads diversity, equity and inclusion internally and externally for the Recording Academy and its affiliates. He is responsible for enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion efforts and ensuring the Academy's core value of diversity, equity and inclusion remains embedded throughout all aspects of the organization, including internal staff culture, Membership, Awards, Advocacy, and related programs. He also sets national and Chapter goals to accelerate outcomes for underrepresented communities and creators.

"We are so proud to have Ryan as our Vice President of DEI," said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. "His passion and leadership have been instrumental to the huge strides in diversity, equity and inclusion we’ve accomplished over the past two years and we're excited to see how he'll continue to enhance our commitment to the music community."

Butler joined the Academy in 2019 as a key member of the Advocacy and Public Policy team and later served as Director then Senior Advisor of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion department. Within DEI, he's led various efforts including the launch of the Academy's first-ever Black Music Collective and the podcast of the same name, the Women In The Mix® Study alongside Berklee College of Music and Arizona State University, and the implementation of an Inclusion Rider for the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards®. Butler also was instrumental in launching a series of partnerships including Color Of Change and GLAAD. During his tenure as Senior Advisor, Butler simultaneously served as the Founding Executive Director of the Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music Business at Howard University. 

Prior to his role at Howard, he held various positions at Scripps Howard School of Journalism & Communication at Hampton University, beginning as an adjunct professor and becoming the Assistant Dean for Administration. He also held past roles at 3EE Consulting, Atlantic Records, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman, LLP, and District of Columbia Superior Courts in Washington, D.C.

Butler serves on Warner Music Group's Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Board and the ADCOLOR for Music Advisory Board. In 2020, he was a founding member and Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee on the Recording Academy's Staff Council. He also has received multiple Outstanding Professor Awards, an Academic Excellence Award and a President's Ambassador of Excellence Award from Hampton University.

Butler holds a bachelor's degree in strategic, legal & management communication from Howard University and a master's degree in music business, with a concentration in entertainment, media & technology from New York University.

The Recording Academy, Berklee College Of Music And Arizona State University Launch Women In The Mix Study

The Recording Academy Hires Ray Starck As Vice President Of Digital Strategy

Ray Starck

Photo: Parvez Stater



The Recording Academy Hires Ray Starck As Vice President Of Digital Strategy

In his role, Starck will lead the Editorial, Digital Media Production and the Product team and will be responsible for content strategy and website management

Recording Academy/Feb 18, 2021 - 10:00 pm

The Recording Academy announced today the hire of Ray Starck to Vice President of Digital Strategy. In his role, Starck will lead the Editorial, Digital Media Production and the Product team and will be responsible for content strategy and website management. Starck will report directly to Chief Operating Officer, Branden Chapman, focusing heavily on web content and consumer interaction.

"We're excited to introduce Ray to the Recording Academy as our VP of Digital Strategy. His experience in applying technology to business practices will bring us sustainable growth and positive change," said Chief Operating Officer of the Recording Academy, Branden Chapman. "We're in the midst of an incredibly transformative time at the Academy and the addition of Ray will keep us nimble as we move into a new era. With such an impressive background and a wide range of expertise, we are excited to see our organization grow."

As Vice President of Digital Strategy, Starck will lead all digital content and website operations. He'll develop digital content strategies across the organization to drive engagement, retention, and channel optimization, and leverage data to advise his teams, all while supporting stakeholder initiatives. 

Starck joins the Academy with over 20 years of digital experience. Across his career, he led digital transformation through strategy and innovation with businesses, working directly with development teams to oversee the application of online solutions and marketing operations. Specifically, he was VP of eCommerce, Digital Media, & Retail Technology at Trina Turk, VP of Product Management at Fox Networks Group, and Senior Product Director at Yahoo Media Group. He most recently headed eCommerce & Digital Technology at Fiore Management, LCC, advising C-suite executives and consulting on product management, eCommerce and retail trends to deliver tactical analyses on digital transformation. Starck is also an Advisory Board Member at Palomar College participating on the Digital Communication & Design Board of Directors to define course curriculum, technologies, platforms, and direction of digital technologies.

The Recording Academy Welcomes Valeisha Butterfield Jones As First-Ever Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

How The HBCU Love Tour Inspires Young Black Students To Prosper In The Music Industry
(L-R): Harvey Mason jr., Precious Jewel, Rico Love, Valeisha Butterfield Jones

Photo Courtesy of the Recording Academy


How The HBCU Love Tour Inspires Young Black Students To Prosper In The Music Industry

Presented by the Recording Academy's GRAMMY U and Black Music Collective, the inaugural HBCU Love Tour motivates students to learn more about the Academy's aims and stake their claims in the music business.

Recording Academy/Oct 8, 2022 - 02:19 am

On a vivacious afternoon back in April, the energy was positively crackling inside the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. From the first minute opening the event to the last seconds of the night, the energy level at the inaugural HBCU Love Tour event was enough to shatter the Richter scale. That's because the HBCU family from across the DMV came ready to learn from today's music industry's leaders.

The HBCU Love Tour, a joint initiative presented by the Recording Academy's GRAMMY U and the Black Music Collective, is a new program aimed at teaching young students and aspiring professionals attending an HBCU, short for historically Black college or university, about the music business and invite them to join GRAMMY U, the Recording Academy's membership program for college students. An entryway into the music industry, the HBCU Love Tour aims to open doors for young, gifted and Black students looking to make their mark in music and entertainment culture.

First, a little background for those who haven't been to the nation's capital. Howard Theatre is a historic spot dating back to 1910; it hosted many Black musical geniuses of the 20th century, from Sarah Vaughan to James Brown to Dionne Warwick. It's also near Howard University, where the majority of the HBCU Love Tour attendees are enrolled. Need proof? Every mention of "H.U." resulted in the saying's remainder, roared back by the audience: "You know!"

The launch of the HBCU Love Tour was a smashing success — you could feel the good vibes. Throughout the event, the throng of attendees, mostly college students, showed a palpable eagerness to learn the ropes of the music business, willing to engage with their entire hearts and minds and absorb that passed-down wisdom.

From Howard students and GRAMMY U affiliates Nia Burnley and Rainee Wilson to the Recording Academy's Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ryan Butler, everyone brought something to the table. (To say nothing of Precious Jewel, the first-ever HBCU Love Contest Winner and one of Howard University's own, who led off the night with a spellbinding performance.)

And throughout a long chat between recent 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill honorees Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis  — as well as appearances by Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr.; Chair on the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy Tammy Hurt; and others — the crowd alternated between silent fascination and visceral enthusiasm.

Read More: "Black Music Saved The World": How The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Celebrated Positive Change For The Culture & Community

But a big reason the HBCU Love Tour was so special was due to its radiant host: Rico Love, Vice Chair on the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy and a two-time GRAMMY nominee.

Even while in conversation with a guest, Love wasn't afraid to break the fourth wall and address the crowd directly — the sign of an excellent moderator — whether he was extolling the virtues of MusiCares ("When you say, 'Forget the GRAMMYs,' you're saying, 'Forget all those people who need help!'") or Advocacy ("Unbeknownst to a lot of people, they're fighting for songwriters' rights!").

Love understands how the Recording Academy and its various initiatives can transform the lives of all music people and creators, including young, aspiring students. "Today was my first day on Capitol Hill doing Advocacy work, and I felt powerful," he said of his work at the 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill earlier that week.

And in a panel between singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn, rapper Cordae and singer/songwriter Kacey Williams, moderated by Love, the realities of struggling in the music business in a pandemic age were laid bare — as well as ways to help ameliorate them.

"I think it's about understanding your worth," Williams, who fronts the band Black Alley, said, succintly summing up the entire theme of the event. "In order to be considered successful in a business, you need to understand what your business is worth."

Of course, songwriters, producers and other music creators hold their craft in high esteem — why else devote their lives to music? However, much of the world hasn't caught up, and it won't without a whole lot of passionate change.

The sheer number of mental seeds planted at the inaugural HBCU Love Tour that night — for a new generation of music people and creators set to lead the industry into the future — is more than enough to engender hope and ignite change.

So, let's keep that blessed feeling of the first-ever HBCU Love Tour in our back pockets as we continue to celebrate and support music and all its professionals and creatives. Whether they consciously know it or not, these students intuitively grasp what they're worth — and the world's about to find out.

Next Up: The HBCU Love Tour heads to Atlanta

Student Showcase
Vinyl at Center Stage
Sunday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m. ET

Panel: Demystifying the GRAMMY Awards with J.I.D, Baby Tate, and Rico Love
GRAMMY U Masterclass with Armani White presented by Mastercard
Ray Charles Performing Arts Center
Monday, Oct. 10., at 4 p.m. ET

GRAMMY U members and students at Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Georgia State University, and Spelman College are invited to attend. RSVP here.

Meet Some Of The Music Industry Leaders Who Just Joined The Recording Academy's 2022 New Member Class

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.

Everything You Need To Know About The Recording Academy's 2022 Chapter Board Elections