Recording Academy Details Global Expansion Efforts in Africa and the Middle East

Recording Academy Details Global Expansion Efforts in Africa and the Middle East

The Recording Academy is extending its efforts to support music creators on a global scale. The Academy has agreements with Ministries of Culture and key stakeholders across the Middle East and Africa to collaborate on a framework to bolster the Academy’s presence and services in these rapidly growing music regions, the organization announced Tuesday (June 11).

“This is exciting because music is one of humanity’s greatest natural resources,” Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement. “It is critical that the people who dedicate themselves to creating music have support, resources and opportunities, no matter where they are from.”

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This global expansion marks a significant shift from the Recording Academy’s original charter. The organization was founded in 1957 as the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.

The Academy is working with the Ministries of Culture in Kenya, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Nigeria, the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture in South Africa. Additionally, MOUs (memoranda of understanding) have been signed with Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

For the past two years, Academy leaders have traveled throughout these regions, participating in listening sessions, receiving high-level briefings, tours and demonstrations, and obtaining insight directly from both governmental ministries and music creators.

The Academy intends to publish a series of reports highlighting its research and insights into these music markets.

“The Recording Academy is dedicated to supporting music creators around the world,” Panos A. Panay, Recording Academy president, said in a statement. “Our expansion efforts into these fast-growing regions reflect our commitment to fostering a truly global music community, where creators at every stage of their careers and from every corner of the world have the resources and support they need to thrive.”

(Panay was born Panayiotis Andreas Panayiotou in Cyprus, which may be a further sign of the Academy’s increasing global reach. Before joining the Academy, Panay was senior vp of global strategy & innovation at Berklee College of Music.)

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The Academy characterizes this exploration into the Middle East and Africa as only the first phase of plans to support music creators abroad. It comes in the same year that the Academy celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Latin Grammy Awards, and seven months after the Latin Grammys were held outside of the United States (in Seville, Spain) for the first time. Last year, the Recording Academy also partnered with the U.S. State Department on an initiative to promote peace through music.

Through these newly-announced collaborations, the Academy looks to explore several key initiatives, including:

Championing music creators at all levels, providing them with a platform and advocacy.

Empowering creators through enhanced training. Through its online learning platform, GRAMMY GO, the Academy will look to provide educational programs and resources specifically tailored to the needs of music creators in these regions.

Producing original content that celebrates the rich musical heritage and dynamic emerging scenes of Africa and the Middle East.

Enhancing support for existing and future members. The Academy argues that cross-cultural learning will benefit all music creators.

Advocating for strong Intellectual Property (IP) legislation and protections for music creators.

Fueling the music economy by collaborating with partners to develop and strengthen the creative economy in Africa and the Middle East.

The Recording Academy supplied quotes from four of its members:

John Legend, a 12-time Grammy winner and a former trustee of the Recording Academy, said: “I’m excited to see the Recording Academy taking these meaningful steps to globalize our mission and reach.  Music knows no borders. It’s global and transcends cultural, political and language barriers. I’m so glad that the Recording Academy, the leading organization serving music creators, is evolving to be a more global organization.”

Angélique Kidjo, a five-time Grammy winner and a current trustee of the Recording Academy, said: “The Recording Academy is accelerating its efforts to serve music people everywhere, and Africa is ready with open arms. We are a continent of music and young, passionate music makers. I’m proud to see the Academy forming partnerships with Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and no doubt, more to come!”

Davido, a three-time Grammy nominee, said: “As an African musician, I’m excited about the Recording Academy’s expansion into Africa and the Middle East. It acknowledges our vibrant talent and the global influence of African music. This initiative offers a platform for creators, elevating our cultural expressions and uniting us through music.”

Kat Graham, actress/singer (The Vampire Diaries, the upcoming Michael Jackson biopic Michael) and a former trustee of the Recording Academy, said: “As a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency, I’ve seen firsthand how interconnected our world is. I applaud the Recording Academy for expanding its activities to Africa and the Middle East, two of the fastest-growing regions. This visionary move will amplify the role music can play as a force for good in the world while showcasing diverse voices and fostering cultural unity on a global scale.”


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