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Recording Academy re-jigs Grammys team

By | Published on Monday 20 September 2021

Recording Academy

The US Recording Academy has given Ruby Marchand the responsibility of overseeing the good old Grammy Awards. This follows the departure of Bill Freimuth, who had performed that role since 2018, having been with the Academy itself since 2004.

Marchard joined the Academy as Chief Industry Officer last year, and will continue in that role too, becoming Chief Awards & Industry Officer, overseeing membership and industry relations as well as the organisation’s big awards bash. At the same time, Joanna Chu has been promoted to Vice President Of Awards, reporting to Marchard. She was previously Managing Director Of Awards, and – like Freimuth – originally joined the Academy in 2004.

“I am proud to welcome Ruby and Joanna into their new positions as we work to enhance our awards processes from the inside out”, says Harvey Mason Jr, who became permanent CEO of the Recording Academy in May, following nearly eighteen months as interim CEO. “Their expertise in this space is highly valuable as we continue to refine the Recording Academy’s role in the music industry and work to provide the highest quality of service to our members”.

At the same time that Freimuth departed last month, VP Communications Lourdes Lopez and Chief Marketing & Innovations Officer Lisa Farris also left the organisation.

The changes in the executive team at the Recording Academy continue Mason’s efforts to build back trust in the organisation itself and its awards, following accusations of corruption made by former CEO Deborah Dugan upon her departure just before the 2020 ceremony. Following this, various artists – most notably The Weeknd – hit out at how the awards are run.

Part of Mason’s plan involved removing nomination review committees from the shortlisting process in all but a number of what the Academy terms ‘craft categories’ – awards for things like package design and immersive audio, where a smaller number of Grammy voters have specialist knowledge.

Such committees had been used in niche categories since the 1980s. Then, in 1995, review committees were also added to the big four Grammy awards to make a final decision on the nominees in those categories.

That came after the nominations for Album Of The Year that year had featured nods for the likes of The Three Tenors and Tony Bennett, but not Snoop Dogg, Pearl Jam and other newer artists who had released some of the year’s most successful albums. That had led to accusations that the awards were out of touch.

Despite introducing nominations committees to combat controversy, in recent years the committees themselves have become controversial. One of Dugan’s key claims was that these “secret committees” often overruled voters, and in some cases artists who were part of these groups were allowed to put themselves into the shortlists. Accusations that the Academy denied.

Whether these changes to the awards – and the team that runs them – will be enough to convince people that the Grammys is just another boring, pointless event – as opposed to a corrupt, boring, pointless event – remains to be seen. I’m sure Ed Sheeran will tell you that it’ll be “horrible” whatever they do.