Recording Academy to Raise Annual Membership Fees By 50%: Exclusive

The Recording Academy is raising its annual membership fees from $100 to $150, its first increase since 2000. The Academy notified its members of the 50% increase in an email on Monday (July 10).

The increase takes effect on Aug. 1. Any dues submitted on or before July 31 will reflect the old rate. 

Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. tells Billboard that if a member says that the fee increase would cause a hardship, they’ll make accommodations, just as they did during the pandemic.

Mason says “a small but significant” percentage of members claimed a hardship during the pandemic and were granted a fee waiver. “There were also some people that paid double dues during COVID to support people what weren’t able to pay dues,” he adds.

“If people do have hardships [with this fee increase], we’re going to continue that policy,” he said. “It’s not about trying to extract money from people that don’t have it. It’s just trying to make a fair value. So, when someone says we can’t afford to play $150, we’re going to say, ‘OK, what can you afford? Oh, you can’t afford it, No problem. We want you as a member regardless.’”

Asked if people take advantage of this lenient approach, Mason responded, “I’m sure there’s a small percentage of people that may take advantage of that, but for the most part the music community are good and fair people. If you’re involved in music and creativity and art, you’re not generally [looking for ways to cheat the system]. We’re not going to worry about the few who might have that in their heart.”

The Academy also has a waiver policy on entry fees. All professional and voting members of the Recording Academy receive five “courtesy entries” per year. If they choose to enter more than five entries, they must pay. This year, the fee is $40 for entries made between July 17-31, $75 for entries made between Aug. 1-23 and $125 for entries made between Aug. 24-31.

But the Academy notes, “Any member who would be burdened by the entry fees can request the fees be waived by reaching out to the awards department.”

The Academy justifies charging a fee for any member making more than five entries by saying, “The per-entry fee structure encourages entrants to consider the value of each entry and make mindful decisions to put forward work that they truly believe is Grammy-worthy.”

Here is the full text of the Academy’s email to its members announcing the increase:

“As part of our ongoing commitment to enhance the experiences of our members, we will be implementing an annual membership dues increase to $150, effective August 1, 2023.

“It is important to highlight the significant accomplishments we have achieved together since the last dues increase in 2000. We have organized over 650 events across 12 Chapters, celebrated and recognized countless GRAMMY Award nominees and winners, provided $110 million in aid through MusiCares, and actively supported the passage of numerous bills at both the state and federal level to protect creators’ rights.

“Through your membership, your financial contributions to the Academy allowed us to do all of the important work that we’ve done – and has allowed our organization to grow and adapt alongside our evolving industry.

“We sincerely appreciate your ongoing membership and unwavering support. It is through your dedication that we are able to ensure the continued prosperity of music. Together, we will keep the spirit of music thriving.”