USC Annenberg Launches Inclusion Initiative Including New Focus on Music

The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism announced Thursday that it has renamed its global research and advocacy think tank from the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative to the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

The initiative will build upon the success of its predecessor, which studies diversity in entertainment both on screen and behind the camera, and has expanded to represent a broader mission that will include music. The Music Coalition, supported by the Harnisch Foundation and Clif Bar Family Foundation, will combine research, industry participation, and advocacy to study inclusion in music and work toward creating measurable change for representation of women and underrepresented racial/ethnic groups across all facets of the music business. Universal Music Group will serve as a new participant in the initiative, represented by Jody Gerson, chairman and CEO of the company’s publishing division, Universal Music Publishing Group.

“These are critical issues to address in our society and in our industry, and this is a crucial time to address them,” Gerson said. “While I’m proud of the progress we’re making within our company, there remains much work to do and I’m honored to be appointed to join this impressive group to help tackle those challenges.”

“Our goal is not only to create more opportunities for today’s recording artists, songwriters and music business executives, but also to ensure a pathway for the next generation of women and underrepresented talent to enter into successful careers where they can make a difference,” said Dr. Stacy L. Smith, founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “Our conversations with industry insiders indicate that while the music industry suffers from inclusion deficits, especially for women and underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, leaders such as Universal Music Group Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge recognize the importance of issues of inclusion, and have demonstrated enthusiasm and readiness to tackle them. We’re thrilled that conversations with Sir Lucian that began over a year ago, have now yielded this exciting partnership.”

In addition to the name change and new Music Coalition, a new advisory board has been appointed to reflect the its expanded mandate. Included among the more than two dozen appointees are leaders from top entertainment companies such as Walt Disney Studios, NBC Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, HBO, and WME, as well as notable foundations who will provide the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative with insight and guidance.

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