In a major overhaul of its Awards department that began in May with the elimination of the controversial “secret committees” that determined final Grammy nominations and continued with the departure of longtime awards chief Bill Freimuth last month, the Recording Academy has appointed Ruby Marchand to the position of chief awards & industry officer, with Joanna Chu elevated to vice president of awards. The moves are effective immediately.
According to the announcement, in her new role, Marchand will continue to oversee both awards and membership and industry relations, reporting to Academy co-president Valeisha Butterfield Jones. In her expanded role, Marchand will work closely with genre managers on the Awards team to effect outreach to musical communities across the nation and beyond, “bringing innovative new possibilities into the Awards process while ensuring their utmost integrity.” She will oversee the membership team as well as the leaders of the Producers & Engineers Wing, Songwriters & Composers Wing and Grammy U.
In the newly created role of vice president of awards, Chu will lead the team through all aspects of the Awards season. She will report to Marchand and join her in reinforcing key Academy initiatives throughout the Awards process, with a special emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion.
The moves come just three months after Harvey Mason jr., who had been acting as interim chief for nearly 18 months, was officially named CEO of the Academy. They follow a major outcry over the Academy’s controversial Grammy-nominating procedures after the Weeknd, who had one of the most commercially and critically successful recordings of the year, was shockingly excluded from all nominations for the awards in favor of several lesser-known artists and recordings. While Mason stood by the awards process at the time, he has moved forcefully in overhauling that process since the Grammys took place in March. The elimination of the secret committees — which ostensibly leaves the final nominations to the decision of the larger Grammy electorate and takes out the previous insider curation of the final nominations for most categories — simplifies the process in many ways.
“I am proud to welcome Ruby and Joanna into their new positions as we work to enhance our awards processes from the inside out,” said Mason. “Their expertise in this space is highly valuable as we continue to refine the Recording Academy’s role in the music industry and work to provide the highest quality of service to our members.”
Prior to joining the Academy’s executive team, Marchand held several elected leadership roles at the Academy. In 2004, she was elected governor and vice president of the New York Chapter. In 2011, she was elected a national trustee from the New York Chapter and served for two terms, and then was elected vice chair of the Academy by the National Board of Trustees in 2015 and served until 2019. Additionally, she was co-chair of the Awards & Nominations Committee for seven years and helped drive new eligibility rules related to streaming. She previously held leadership roles at Warner Music Group, including vice president of international A&R for 25 years and head of A&R for Cordless Recordings and Rykodisc.
Chu previously held director and managing director roles in the Academy’s Awards Department, where she was responsible for overseeing the departmental staff and upholding the integrity of the awards process. Prior to joining the Academy, Chu worked in Silicon Valley as one of the few female software engineers in the aerospace industry for 15 years prior to a career shift to the music industry.