The 2017 BRITs voting academy has undergone a major overhaul to promote greater gender and ethnic diversity among the awards’ voting body.
With a core focus on redressing the gender balance and increasing BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) representation on the academy, BPI chairman Ged Doherty has spearheaded a significant reshuffle of the voting body that has upped the percentage of female members from 30% to 48% year-on-year. The number of BAME invitees is also up on last year from 15% to 17%.
Each year, the academy’s 1,200-plus membership is refreshed to the tune of around 300 members. This year, however, 57% (718 members) were culled from the list to make way for new blood.
“We wanted to make sure there’s a much greater gender balance as well as a BAME representation,” Doherty told Music Week. “So in terms of how it will affect the nominations remains to be seen. I think it will make it more reflective of what’s going on in Britain musically, that’s certainly our hope. But until everybody votes I have no idea. And that’s how it should be. It shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion.”
The 2016 BRIT Awards saw organisers come under fire for a perceived lack of diversity among the nominees shortlist and eventual winners. It was also criticised by some for failing to recognise grime in what was considered a breakthrough period for the genre.
“Some people feel we got the balance wrong last year,” Doherty said. “I met Stormzy earlier this year to discuss what his concerns were and it highlighted a genuine area of concern that we needed to address. It wasn’t pressure as such, other than the pressure we put on ourselves every year to change the academy. It was something we were doing naturally anyway, but I felt we needed to speed it up. We’re also taking this opportunity for the BPI to lead the way on diversity across the music industry.”
The criteria for inclusion on the voting list remains the same as ever, with members invited on the basis of their expertise across different areas of the music industry.
Overseeing the review process alongside Doherty was BRIT Awards 2017 chairman Jason Iley (chairman and CEO, Sony Music Entertainment UK and Ireland.
“As the most important awards in the British music calendar we have a responsibility to be truly reflective of what is happening in music so that we can support new and emerging talent as well as recognise and celebrate mainstream commercial success,” Iley said. “To do this it’s important we have Voting Academy members who are both knowledgeable and passionate about all types of music and who also reflect the diversity of our consumers and country.”
Voting Academy invites will be sent out today. Voting will commence on December 9 and close on December 13.