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Music Industry Moves: Recording Academy’s New Member Class Is 50% People of Color, 37% Women

The Recording Academy has unveiled the demographics of its new member class for an addition of a record-breaking 2,400 new participants with 50% being people of color.

Additionally, 46% of this year’s class are under the age of 40, and 37% are women. “Since implementing the new member model in 2019, which refined the new member submission process, membership among people of color has risen from 24% to 38%,” per the Academy who adds that they are nearly to their goal of adding 2,500 women Voting Members by 2025.

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“I’m proud as our organization continues to evolve and build a membership body that reflects the diverse talents and backgrounds that make up our music community,” said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. “Our commitment to diversity and inclusivity, however, is an ongoing effort. While we celebrate our progress, we also acknowledge that there’s still more work that must be done. Our members play a crucial role in everything we do, so representation is integral to our mission of supporting and uplifting music makers. I’m thrilled to welcome this year’s new class and look forward to watching them engage with our Academy for years to come.”

The final round of voting for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards, where SZA is the most nominated act of the evening, is open from Dec. 14, 2023 – Jan. 4, 2024. Voting Members, including those welcomed in the 2023 new class, are eligible to vote for the 2024 awards.

+ Kobalt has signed producer 9lives to a worldwide publishing agreement, including global synch and creative services for his existing catalog and futures.

The New Zealand-born South African artist is a pioneer for sigilkore, the fast-growing internet-born rap subgenre spanning cloudrap, hyperpop, electronic, and more. In the first year of his career, the 19-year-old artist has already worked with Trippie Redd, Rico Nasty, JELEEL!, Kanii, Odetari, and more.

“It is a rare talent who is able to forge their own movement in music, and 9lives is doing just that,” said Simon Moor, managing director for APAC. “As an exponent of fresh ideas and sounds 9lives is helping to redefine hip-hop and drive it forward into the future. At Kobalt, we are excited to bring our publishing expertise and deliver opportunities to amplify and build on the incredible success that 9lives and his management team, led by Dan Woolston, has already achieved.”

Commenting on the deal, 9lives said, “Music and songwriting has been my dream since childhood, and having Kobalt on my side means that my dream can become a reality. Working with them is key to expanding not only my music, but also extending me creatively into film, more collaborations, and the wider world of composition.”

+ Warner Music-owned dance label Spinnin’ Records has launched a joint venture with Kanary Records. Kanary is also a dance music label with departments in publishing, multimedia and fashion.

Kanary Records is led by Canadian production duo DVBBS (Alex and Christopher Van Den Hoef). Their artists, including Arkade, Bad Nonno and Dayfive, are set to receive distribution and other support from the Warner imprint.

+ KingShip has launched a new immersive experience built around the adventures of Bored Ape supergroup, exclusively on Roblox.

As they go through the experience, fans will earn free accessories to style their avatars with, inspired by the band and other characters in their story. As the weeks progress, fans will be able to earn additional free limited virtual goods and experience official music produced by the two chart-topping and award-winning music producers and songwriters, Hit-Boy and James Fauntleroy, who serve as co-executive producers, overseeing the evolution of the group’s music direction and sound.

Thursday, Nov. 30

Riggs Morales, the A&R executive known for his tenures at Atlantic Records and Eminem’s Shady Records, has been tapped as Def Jam’s new executive VP of A&R. The move was announced Tuesday by CEO Tunji Balogun, to whom Morales will directly report.

Based in New York, Morales will bring his experience in hip-hop — this spans collaborations with 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, Cypress Hill and more — to Def Jam. Other notable projects include Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Grammy-winning, diamond-certified Broadway cast album of “Hamilton: An American Musical.”

“Armed with an instinct for creative development that keeps his artists first, Riggs has carved out a unique place for himself in our business, along with an absolutely blockbuster resume,” said Balogun. “Our relationship spans over a decade, and I have always been impressed by his instincts, energy, and creativity. From his work with Shady Records, to his alliances with Lin Manuel Miranda and Janelle Monae, to his time as an influential journalist, Riggs’ contributions to the culture are the stuff of legend. We’re excited to welcome Riggs to the Def Jam family.”

Added Morales, “Growing up in New York City, Def Jam has served as a touchstone in my life for longer than I can remember. In my time as both a journalist and an executive, Def Jam has always been the pinnacle, the iconic hip-hop label, and the blueprint for others to follow. The roster and the culture that Tunji has built over the past two years is exactly where the future of this great label needs to lead – global, diverse, dynamic and artist-forward. As Def Jam heads into its fortieth year, I look forward to bringing my energy and passion to the team at this pivotal and exciting moment in the story of one of the greatest labels of all time.”

Morales was most recently senior VP of A&R and artist development for Atlantic, where he was appointed VP of A&R and artist development in 2014. Prior to Atlantic, Morales worked with Goliath Artists, Inc. After one year, Morales was appointed director of A&R for the newly launched imprint, Shady Records.

+ CTM Outlander has signed singer-songwriter Sam Hunt, acquiring his publishing catalog as part of a go-forward publishing deal for his future works.

CTM Outlander is a partnership between the Texas-based Outlander Capital, led by Les Ware and Mike McKool, and Netherlands-based independent music entertainment company CTM, led by industry veteran André de Raaff.

“Discussing the sale of some of my catalog took a while and I am glad that it did, as I got to know André and his CTM Outlander team better and better,” said Hunt in a statement. “They continued to meet with me and my team over the last several months to discuss what working together might look like. I appreciate their diligence and belief in what I am doing as an artist, and more importantly, as a songwriter. I believe we will have a productive partnership both internationally and here at home.”

+ Primary Wave Music has struck a new deal with Derek Dick, aka Fish of the rock band Marillion.

The deal includes Fish’s master royalties and writer’s share for Marillion. The terms of the agreement also provide Fish with access to Primary Waves resources, including their marketing team and publishing infrastructure, including digital strategy, licensing, synch opportunities, and film and TV production.

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