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BRITs tell The Voice: Our nominations reflect chart success

EXCLUDED: Black UK acts Stormzy, Lianne La Havas and Krept & Konan

THE LACK of diversity in this year’s BRIT Award nominations sparked the hashtag #BritsSoWhite , with social media condemning the ceremony’s exclusion of the UK’s black music stars.

Acts including grime duo Krept & Konan and south London rapper Stormzy, who have each made chart history in the last 12 months, failed to land a nomination ahead of next month’s awards show.

"None of my Gs nominated for Brits? Embarrassing. Last year, they told the mandem that to be nominated you've gotta go on UK charts," Stormzy fumed on his track One Take Freestyle, released in January.

Following social media condemnation, The Voice contacted The BRITs for comment. The first email - to an address provided on the official website - was sent on January 26.

A few emails and tweets later, a spokesperson furnished us with responses to our questions yesterday (Feb 17).

*Note: The questions and responses have not been edited or altered in any way.


1. How does the Brits respond to hashtag #BritsSoWhite - is it a fair criticism?

The BRITs typically celebrate the highest levels of achievement, reflecting commercial popularity and chart success, and currently mainstream Pop artists are performing very strongly in the charts. This is likely to be reflected in the nominations and winners voted for by the Academy. That said, we met recently with a wide group of music people, including BAME artists and individuals, to explain how the Awards are voted on, how the Voting Academy and eligibility process works and to listen to their concerns. What came across in our discussions about the BRITs is that the complaints are not about racial diversity as such, but more about the lack of acknowledgement for new breakthrough acts and genres, such as Grime. The challenge is how you recognise the success of such music when arguably its popularity may not be fully reflected in the charts or through commercial sales. This is something we will be looking at ahead of next year’s show.


2. We're aware that the BRIT Awards Voting Academy is made up of 1113 people, can you break down the composition in terms of age, gender and ethnicity for this year.

We do not have the diversity breakdown as we have not previously required this of members invited to join the Academy. The invitation to vote is extended on the basis of their music industry expertise so that they can make an informed decision. We want as broad a range of experts as possible, who can draw on a strong knowledge base and on their passion for music – people who work across all areas of the industry, including artists and media (the largest percentage of the Voting Academy is the UK media who are responsible for 31.18% of the vote). This is why the list is refreshed each year, and why we believe this inclusive approach helps to ensure that a broad range of voices are represented and reflected in the voting process. In the interests of transparency, the full list of the Academy is published every year in the Program and on our website. We will be surveying next year’s Academy to ensure we have all this data including regionality too.


3. In light of the present protest, do you believe the awards made a conscious effort to represent in terms of race and genre?

Although The BRITs are not genre specific, its organisers do understand and support the argument that the Awards should always seek to reflect as broad a range as possible of what’s popular in today’s music – and that more can always be done. As such, The BRITs have committed to explore a number of initiatives as soon as this year’s event is over that could further help support and encourage new genres and artists in particular.


4. How many members of the voting academy have any expertise of knowledge in rap, grime, hip hop, jazz, Rnb and generally music of black origin?
Please see response to Q2.


5. Moving forward will more action will be taken ensure the award show recognises the different sounds in British music?

Whilst typically reflecting and celebrating mainstream chart success and commercial impact, The Awards have always also been committed to using the BRITs platform to support new and emerging artists and genres – be that through funding The BRIT School (who have produced artists such Adele, FKA Twigs and Rizzle Kicks, amongst others) or introducing awards such as The Critics’ Choice, voted on by a panel of the UK’s most respected music critics.

During 2016 we will be looking at whether there are other ways in which the BRITs could recognise emerging artists and genres.

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