Songwriters and composers have long felt under-recognized by the Grammy Awards — and many have advocated for a Songwriter of the Year award — and today the Recording Academy has made a step toward addressing that by announcing the creation of its Songwriters & Composers Wing, an Academy membership division representing the diverse community of music creators who provide the world with the gift of song. It is similar in theme to the Producers & Engineers Wing, created 20 years ago, which recognizes those vital members of the music community. The news was announced during the Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
The announcement reads, “Working collaboratively with the Academy’s membership base and ecosystem of music creators, the new Wing fosters recognition of all genres of songwriters and amplifies their unique role in policy discussions that seek fair compensation for creators. Through educational offerings including panels, mixers, songwriting retreats, and mentorship, the Wing will provide opportunities for recognition, networking and collaboration. It will also spotlight emerging opportunities for song and scoring achievement within a variety of media globally.”
Between the lines of that announcement is the fact that many songwriters and composers have seen their income drop over the past 20 years as CDs have been replaced by streaming services, which generate much less income for creators. While touring musicians had been able to compensate for that loss by performing — at least until the pandemic struck a year ago — many songwriters do not have that option and have fought for a bigger slice of the financial pie generated by their work.
Songwriter and Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter President Evan Bogart will serve as Chair of the Songwriters & Composers Wing; Lamont Dozier, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Ashley Gorley, Carole King, Jimmy Jam, Tania León, Gustavo Santaolalla, Valerie Simpson, Diane Warren, and Hans Zimmer will serve as honorary chairs; and Susan Stewart, Senior Director, South Region at the Recording Academy will serve as Executive Sponsor.
Currently, a third of the Recording Academy’s voting membership identify songwriting or composing as part of their craft and these members will be automatically included in the new Wing. Those interested in joining can find membership information on the Recording Academy’s Songwriters & Composers Wing page on GRAMMY.com.
Interim Recording Academy chief Harvey Mason jr., himself a songwriter and producer, said, “The musical process begins with our fellow songwriters and composers, and we’re thrilled to launch this Wing at the Academy that creates a home for music’s storytellers across the country. These creatives are essential to the music community and we look forward to collaborating with our industry colleagues to support, educate and empower the diverse members in these crafts.”
“The S&C Wing magnifies the presence of songwriters and composers throughout our membership body,” said Ruby Marchand, Chief Industry Officer at the Recording Academy. “Many songwriters and composers are also producers, engineers, musicians, and recording artists. We look forward to celebrating their full array of talents and accomplishments.”
“Just as music begins with the song, music advocacy begins with the songwriter,” said Daryl Friedman, Chief Advocacy Officer at the Recording Academy. “We are pleased to continue our fight for songwriters and composers’ rights, reenergized by the newly organized advocates of the Songwriters & Composers Wing.”