Music News: Time's Up co-founder to head Grammys diversity effort


Tina Tchen speaks in New York City in 2017.
Tina Tchen speaks in New York City in 2017. (Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The New York Women's Foundation)

Tina Tchen, a former Obama White House staffer and a co-founder of the Time's Up movement, will head a diversity task force for the Recording Academy — the organization that hands out the Grammys each year.

The task force will "identify the various barriers and unconscious biases faced by underrepresented communities throughout the music industry and, specifically, across Recording Academy operations and policies," the organization announced on Tuesday.

The decision to convene a task force comes in the wake of criticism over major awards being heavily weighted towards men, and over academy leader Neil Portnow’s comments that women need to "step up" to be recognized by the recording industry.

"The music industry faces numerous challenges — from combating long-held biases to making sure women are represented and respected within the community," said Tchen in a statement. "This task force is an important initial step by the Recording Academy to demonstrate its commitment to tackling these challenges in a comprehensive way." (New York Times)

Fyre Festival fallout

Entrepreneur Billy McFarland has pleaded guilty to fraud associated with last year's Fyre Festival, an epic failure that led to stranded attendees and artists who were angry ever to have been associated with such a poorly-planned venture. Among the latest facts to emerge: despite having woefully underspent on logistics, McFarland paid over $150,000 for a yacht for headliners Blink-182. Like every other planned entertainer, they cancelled their festival appearance anyway.

McFarland now faces up to 40 years in prison. Festival co-founder Ja Rule isn't facing any similar criminal charges, but he's a co-defendent in numerous civil suits over the failed festival. (NME)

Fund pays families of Vegas shooting victims

532 claimants will receive up to $275,000 each from a fund created to support the families of people killed or injured in last fall's mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas. The $31.4 million fund received contributions from over 90,000 donors, including several million dollars from Las Vegas resort and entertainment companies. (Rolling Stone)

Remembering Alan Gershwin

Songwriter Alan Gershwin has died in a Bronx hospital at age 91. You don't know any of his songs, because none of them were ever recorded, despite his best efforts. What Gershwin did succeed at was convincing countless people, over the course of seven decades, that he was the long-lost illegitimate son of legendary composer George Gershwin.

He almost certainly wasn't, despite a strong resemblance and a compelling story that moved friends and journalists. As the New York Times explains, people just wanted to believe him.

How, they asked, could the handsome and debonair George, who died in 1937 at the age of 38, not have impregnated someone along his gilded way? How else to explain Alan Gershwin's encyclopedic knowledge of Gershwin lore and esoterica and a Manhattan apartment made uninhabitable by heaps of Gershwin detritus? And the 500, or 800, or 1,200 songs that he said he had written? And his single-minded pursuit of his claim?

Though Alan Gershwin could never provide evidence, genetic or otherwise, he carried his claim to his grave.

Questlove asks friends to donate Wrinkle in Time tickets

Questlove has launched what he calls the #WRINKLEchallenge: an effort to convince his fans and friends to donate tickets for kids to see the upcoming film A Wrinkle In Time. This follows efforts by artists and organizations ranging from Kendrick Lamar to First Avenue to rent theaters for kids to see Black Panther. Both films feature strong representation of artists and characters of color.

"The representation in the fantasy film lies both on and off the screen," notes Billboard. "The movie based on Madeleine L'Engle’s beloved 1962 science fantasy novel boasts a diverse cast including Mindy Kaling, Storm Reid, and Oprah Winfrey in lead roles, and is directed by Selma’s Ava DuVernay, who is the first woman of color to direct a film with a budget of more than $100 million."

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