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NEAR TRUTHS: DUGAN,
DO-GOODER

The apparent choice of Deborah Dugan as the next Recording Academy chief by the Board of Directors—reported but not yet officially confirmed—is an excellent sign of progress. Dugan is said to have won the board’s vote, but her employment package has yet to be approved; the announcement is supposedly due sometime after their 5/21 meeting. It seems clear, in any case,that press leaks about her having been chosen increased the exec’s negotiating leverage significantly.

Her background is impressive, to say the least, and would seem to back up the claim by some insiders that the new choice for Grammy boss would reflect a decidedly new direction.

The head of the widely admired charity (RED) since 2011, Dugan has been assisting the org (co-founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver) in raising some $600m to combat AIDS and other dread diseases in Africa. She’s also worked closely with sister org ONE, which fights poverty and preventable disease. So her bona fides for overseeing Grammy’s philanthropic efforts are above reproach.

Long before she was working for Bono, though, the University of Utah law grad was working pro bono; she left a lucrative Wall
Street mergers-and-acquisitions practice to head Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, which has been a boon for cash-strapped creators in need of legal counsel. Lengthy stints at Marty Bandier’s SBK, EMI/Capitol (as EVP) and Angel and the overall media publishing arm at Disney followed.

At (RED), in addition to guiding enormous fundraising efforts and securing the participation of major corporate partners, Dugan is said to have cultivated an extremely inclusive work environment in which the majority of staff members are female. Given the present climate (and recent PR problems for Academy leadership), that’s another huge plus.

How might Dugan’s particular skill set pay off in Grammyland? Some believe she could be a big help in growing the portion of Academy revenue not derived from its $500m, 10-year deal with CBS, which is set to continue for seven more years.

Questions abound, naturally. Can Dugan affect improved relations between the organization and the artist community? Will she hire a COO to help guide the ship? If so, will she go outside the Academy to find this exec? Or would it be more advantageous to empower someone from inside the organization? How involved will she get in the details of the telecast, with Ken Ehrlich in the last year of his deal and Ben Winston waiting in the wings?

There is a widening demographic gulf between the audience for top-streaming music and the audience for top-rated TV. Most acts now populating the top of the DSP charts are unknown to the upper-demo viewers who are the bread and butter of network broadcasting; this disparity is likely to become more acute over time. Without established superstars, ratings will continue to dip. Could the new administration repair Grammy’s relationship with top artists who have wide demographic appeal, like Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and Beyoncé, after the damage inflicted in recent years due to the nomination process?

Elections are now underway at all levels of the Academy, underscoring its rather confusing structure and its tendency toward smoke-filled rooms—with everything coming to fruition next month. Will the existing power cabal remain in place after this round of voting? How will Dugan contend with the somewhat occult characteristics of the org? Can she help bring about a turn toward greater transparency? We certainly wish her luck.

 

WOODSTOCK, DAY TWO
Once upon a time...at Yasgur's farm (8/16a)
RAINMAKERS: THEY CONTROL THE WEATHER
This is no ordinary doorstop. (8/15a)
SONG REVENUE CHART: DOG DAYS
But things will liven up soon. (8/16a)
A PRESEASON
HITS LIST
The biz is getting its game face on. (8/16a)
GRAMMY CHEW: COMING IN
UNDER THE WIRE
More speculation over lox and bagels (8/16a)
HEAT!
Seriously, we can't take off any more clothes at the office.
DOLDRUMS!
Nothing doing.       
LUNCH!
Well, what do YOU want?      
VACATION!
Badly needed.     
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