Quantcast

NEAR TRUTHS:
SEARCHING QUESTIONS

The Recording Academy has spoken: After a gesture in the direction of a CEO search by recruiter Heidrick & Struggles, Grammyland has anointed “interim” chief Harvey Mason Jr. as the official Big Cheese.

It was always going to be Harvey—or some other ultimate insider—and the headhunting firm and industry “search” look increasingly like pure gaslighting, part of the PR smokescreen enabled by the Academy’s lack of transparency.

Scuttlebutt from around the biz is that, even if the search had been sincere, no industry people of any stature were willing to take the gig and attempt to drain the proverbial swamp of entrenched interests and backroom dealing. Such a task would be daunting enough without the knowledge that the last CEO to move toward exposing said corruption, Deb Dugan, was promptly crucified.

Mason has presided over this demimonde of patronage with real savoir faire, and the changes he has trumpeted ending the Secret Nomination Review Committes, making the membership more inclusive—have earned him the right kind of headlines. Thus the Academy’s spin, in its announcement of HMJ’s coronation, regarding his “transformative” leadership.

But as long as the same players are malingering in the back rooms and advancing their own objectives, it’s hard to believe the mission of the Secret Committees won’t continue in some other form, with someone’s thumb on the scale. And the Grammys’ credibility problem will only worsen.

For all the talk about new blood at the Academy, it’s highly instructive to look at the entrenched veterans who dominate the top tier. Take, for example, the longtime execs who saw to the crowning of HMJ. Search Committee Co-Chairs John Burk and Leslie Ann Jones have held various posts in Grammyland over the years; neither has been anywhere near the front line of the biz or music culture in ages. Burk, a founding partner at Concord, won Grammys for a Ray Charles album in 2004, while recording engineer Jones got a 2019 statuette for a Kronos Quartet record. For the most part, though, the two have been absorbed by their work as trustees, board chairs, chapter presidents and so forth.

Then there’s Tammy Hurt, whose bio touts her as a “rock ‘n’ roll drummer” (she played with Indigo Girls at one time) but, as her Wikipedia entry allows, “She is best known as a Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Recording Academy.” As Vice Chair, Hurt, too, sat on the Search Committee. She and Jones, by the way, were two of the four “Women on the Executive Committee” signatories who piled on for the aforementioned scourging of Dugan, accusing her of “consistent management deficiencies and failures” and vowing not to “reward her with a lucrative settlement.”

There are plenty of other players in the mix who are “best known” as Academy lifers, rotating from chair to chair as their terms lapse and burrowing ever deeper into the fabric of the place. This is the culture that has prevented real transparency as regards awards and exacerbated the gulf between Grammy and the biz. That these insiders felt safer with Harvey ensconced at the helm speaks volumes.

Mason’s comments following Grammy’s inexusable shutout of The Weeknd were jaw-droppingly disingenuous. “The voting body” decides, he repeatedly asserted as he made the rounds attempting to douse the flames of outrage, suggesting that a megastar with the biggest record in the world somehow hadn’t passed muster with Academy members. Yet we were expected to believe that a majority of these same members had accorded a handful of below-the-radar developing acts the keys to the kingdom.

Here’s a choice quote from Mason’s apologia junket:

“We listen to all the music — even an album, you’re listening to almost the whole album, it takes I don’t know how many hours. It’s a long, arduous process and people take pride in it. The people in that room care: there’s no agendas in there, there’s no ‘let’s snub this person’ or that person. It’s about, ‘Let’s try and find excellence.’”

Let’s try and find excellence. Perhaps it’s lurking in some alcove, in the clutches of a pal from the committee across the way who could really use a favor.

NEAR TRUTHS:
CAVEAT EMPTOR
Our favorite cartoon character is back on our minds. (8/4a)
SONY MUSIC PREDICTS IMPRESSIVE FISCAL '22
The planets are aligning. (8/4a)
LIVE NATION AMPED UP ON Q2 RETURNS
Rapino makes change for a quarter. (8/4a)
THE HAPPIEST TOP 20
Billie's back...on her own terms. (8/4a)
GRAMMY CHEW: SEEING BIEBER
It's high time for Justice in the Academy. (8/4a)
NEW & DEVELOPING ARTISTS
From tender shoots to mighty oaks.
MARKETSHARE MANIA
Let's do the numbers.
DELTA VARIANT
It is not the name of a Henry Miller novel.
IS IT TIME FOR ANOTHER ROCK STORY?
Could be. Dunno.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)