The Recording Academy’s CEO Harvey Mason Jr. has a tough job. After all, it can’t be easy to oversee “music’s biggest night” — or field the complaints that come from both artists and their fans when those artists miss out on the most prestigious awards at each year’s Grammy Awards. One example is the recent sentiment that Beyoncé should have won Album Of The Year for Renaissance and not just Best Dance Album.
It’s his job to make sure that the Academy’s membership reflects music’s increasingly diverse audience and the rapidly changing landscape, incorporating new musical genres and styles in the categories, and helping to make sure the “right” names compete for these admittedly subjective awards, like Bad Bunny. And even with all that, it still comes down to how the votes shake out, making some losses “inevitable” in his eyes, unless more voices participate in the process.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Mason addressed the perceived snubs of Beyoncé and Bad Bunny for Album Of The Year, and put forth his suggested fix to ensure changes to the oft-criticized Grammys.
“It’s always tough because it’s a subjective award,” he said. “But I take all criticisms very, very seriously, and I look into how we can be better as an academy — we all do. So when somebody’s upset, whether it’s an artist or a fan base, we take it seriously. There’ve been giant steps forward, and we’re going to continue to evolve and grow. We don’t like it when anybody feels snubbed, although it’s inevitable.”
He continued, “We could look at it two ways: If somebody’s feeling like the voting went the wrong way, they can turn their backs or they can say, ‘I’m going to get more involved and make sure our community’s voice is heard.’ In the past, where someone felt something else should’ve won, I’ve asked, ‘Did you vote?’ And they’d say they weren’t a member. We’ve got to get you to be a member because I need your vote. The academy needs the votes of all the different people in all the different genres. We can’t leave the voting to someone else. We have to be voters ourselves.”
Considering the Academy hadn’t always included ethnic minorities or women, Mason’s efforts have focused on getting more membership from those demographics. As he told Rolling Stone, the Academy is 80 percent of the way to its goal of adding 2,500 women to its rolls by 2025. Whether that helps to ensure more contemporary faves actually get what fans believe they’re due remains to be seen.