Recording Academy, MusiCares Cut 13 Staffers in Reorganization

The Recording Academy and its philanthropic arm, MusiCares, laid off 13 staffers as part of a restructuring on Friday (Oct. 2), including a number of high-level executives.

At the Recording Academy, nine staffers were let go, including creative services vp Dave Konjoyan, and several other people in his department.

Among the four executives dismissed at MusiCares are vp finance Judy Wong and vp events and fundraising Kelly Darr.

The moves stem from a major reorganization the Recording Academy began this summer when it streamlined into three divisions: the entertainment/consumer divisions (led by new COO Branden Chapman), the trade/industry group (led by label veteran Ruby Marchand) and organizations/cross verticals (led by CFO Wayne Zahner, chief diversity and inclusion officer Valeisha Butterfield Jones and chief people & culture officer Shonda Grant).

“We did our reorganization in July and as part of that, we really have been doing deep dives into all the verticals,” interim president/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told Billboard Friday night. “There’s some new alignment [and] some crossover in different sections and because of that we wanted to make sure the skill sets in each of those verticals were being taken advantage of and we weren’t being duplicative on the jobs people were doing. These layoffs are based on our taking a thoughtful and hard look at the services and the things we can provide to our members and how we can continue to evolve and adapt and diversify the academy. “

Mason added that he did not expect any further layoffs.

Prior to the layoffs, the Recording Academy had 169 staffers. That does not include the 95 employees who work for the Latin Recording Academy, Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation, Grammy Museum and MusiCares. Of the 169, 60% were female, 46% were “diverse” and 55% were under 40, according to a Recording Academy virtual industry summit held Thursday.

Mason has put focus on increasing the academy’s diversity and inclusion numbers within the organization’s ranks and among its membership, including hiring Butterfield Jones, its first diversity and inclusion officer, in April.

“Within our staff, we have achieved gender parity,” Mason told Billboard during a September roundtable. “The executive committee is at 50-50. We have achieved age parity between those 40 and up and those 40 and under. The same for race: With minorities, we are now at parity within our staff.”

The move comes as the 63-year old academy heads into Grammy season with the 63rd Grammy Awards scheduled to take place Jan. 31, 2021 in Los Angeles.

Paul Grein and Colin Stutz assisted in preparing this story.

Elvis Presley’s Grandson Benjamin Keough Buried at Graceland

Benjamin Keough was laid to rest on Thursday (Oct. 1).

Lisa Marie Presley’s son, who died at age 27 in mid-July, was buried in Meditation Garden at Graceland, Elvis Presley’s former residence, the property’s official page revealed.

“Benjamin Storm Presley Keough was laid to rest in the Meditation Garden at Graceland with his family including his grandfather, Elvis Presley, great-grandmother, Gladys Presley, great-grandfather, Vernon Presley and great-great-grandmother, Minnie Mae Presley,” the statement reads.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled on July 14 that Keough’s official cause of death was a shotgun wound and the manner of death was ruled suicide.

Presley’s rep told The Hollywood Reporter at the time, “She is completely heartbroken, inconsolable and beyond devastated but trying to stay strong for her 11-year-old twins and her oldest daughter, Riley. She adored that boy. He was the love of her life.”

Mariah Carey Unveils ‘Live at the Tokyo Dome’ 1996 Concert on YouTube

In celebration of the #MC30 anniversary, Mariah Carey served some serious nostalgia by releasing her full Live at the Tokyo Dome concert, which was filmed during her 1996 Daydream World Tour.

The breathtaking performance will be available on YouTube for a seven-day run beginning on Friday (Oct. 2).

The concert film arrives in conjunction with The Rarities, a 15-track collection featuring a new song recorded during sessions for the singer’s self-titled 1990 debut, “Here We Go Around Again,” as well as the B-sides “Slipping Away” and “Everything Fades Away,” a song from The Paperboy soundtrack (“Mesmerized”) and the Lauryn Hill collab “Save the Day.”

Live at Tokyo Dome, Carey’s first concert in Japan, includes live versions of “Emotions,” “Fantasy,” “Always Be My Baby,” “One Sweet Day,” “Dreamlover,” “Vision of Love,” Hero” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

Watch the full concert below.

Watch BTS’ Final ‘Tonight Show’ Performance to Wrap Up BTS Week

BTS is wrapping up their fun-filled week at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Friday (Oct. 2) but they’re not wrapping up a “Dynamite” week without one last performance.

Over the course of the week, the K-pop supergroup delivered renditions of  “Mikrokosmos,” “Black Swan,” “Home,” “Dynamite” and “Idol,” as well as a sit-down interview about their high school days and some fun and games.

Watch their final performance below tonight at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Ally Brooke Opens Up About Her Virginity: ‘I Was Brave to Share That’

Ally Brooke is opening up about her life in her upcoming memoir Finding Harmony, and reveals in the book that at 27 years old, she is still a virgin.

“I put that in my book, and I opened up about that. I was brave to share that,” she told Hollywood Raw of her decision to wait until marriage. “I was really happy to be able to share that with my fans and readers, and show them the choice that I made, and have them receive it however they want to receive it. Letting my true heart shine was the goal of this book.”

As far as her dating life, the former Fifth Harmony star shared that “everybody has respected it, which is awesome.”

“I have had those moments where people would make fun of me or question me, like ‘Yeah right,’ but I just have to hold that in my heart and know my truth and kind of just let that be that,” she continued. “It’s awesome feeling that respect. I’ve never felt any pressure.”

Ally did, however, discuss some inappropriate remarks from music executives earlier in her career. “This music executive was like come meet with me I can help you. Then when I went, he gave me a thong and said, ‘You’d look really good in this.’ I was completely humiliated, shocked, and disgusted,” she explained. “I didn’t feel like I had any power to do anything about it, because sadly at that time people heard about these things but really didn’t do much. People weren’t being held accountable for their actions. So I just felt so helpless and alone. Just a searing humiliation and even afraid. At the time what could I do? I was just a small girl in a group and all these people had the power.”

Finding Harmony is out Oct. 13.

‘We Made a Statement’: J Balvin on Making History at a Reggaeton-Heavy Latin Grammys (Exclusive)

Ten years ago, J Balvin had his eye on the prize, hoping to one day nab a Latin Grammy nomination. Today, leading the pack with 13 mentions, he makes history as the artist with the most noms for a single Latin Grammy award show in its 21-year history.

“What speaks for you is your work. All the discipline throughout the years is a cause and effect,” Balvin tells Billboard in an exclusive interview. “This is truly beautiful because I’m a dreamer from Medellin, Colombia who wanted to make a statement and we achieved that.”

On Tuesday (Sept. 29) the Latin Recording Academy unveiled its full nominations including top contenders like Bad Bunny, Ozuna, and Anuel AA—a very different scene from last year’s list dominated by pop/tropical acts such as Alejandro Sanz, Rosalia, Juan Luis Guerra, and Fonseca.

The reggaeton-heavy nominations come a year after a wave of urbano artists expressed their concerns with the Latin Recording Academy for the lack of urban recognition in the main categories. Balvin, alongside other colleagues, was one of the leading force of the “Without Reggaeton there’s no Latin Grammys” campaign on social media. Their protest, as he simply stated, is “for the culture and the movement.”

“It would be nice to be the big winner of the night but we already made a statement and that’s the most important thing,” he says. “This is for the youth, for the dreamers, for the reggaeton genre and the different ramifications of urban music.”

Nominated twice in multiple categories, including the coveted record of the year, album of the year, and the newly-added best reggaeton performance, Balvin’s nods reflect a genre where collaborations flourish. Though collabs have propelled the genre to expand and go global, Balvin assures that everything has a balance.

“There are moments for collaborations and moments to be solo,” he says. “I had practically no collaborations on ‘Colores’ because I wanted to see how I connect with fans by myself. I wouldn’t like to know that my career depends on someone else.”

For Balvin, the 2020 Latin Grammys is a sign that things are getting done the right way. “All new artists should be aware that there is a voting system, that they have to register for the Grammys, become part of the academy and vote for their dreams,” he advises.

Earlier this week, Balvin celebrated his career milestone with a throwback photo from 2010. On it, he’s seen posing next to the golden gramophone statuette. His main purpose? To continue inspiring his fans.

“Sometimes we become desperate and want things to happen right away, I include myself,” he admits. “It took me 10 years to get to this point but you have to enjoy the process because those memories don’t come back either. I think the main thing is to create a solid foundation and not depend so much on social media or wanting to go viral. Few things go viral but hard work and discipline always lead you to success. Dream but work hard for that. It’ll take longer but it’ll last.” he concludes.

Britney Spears Shares Beachy Hawaiian Memories (& the Drink Named After Her)

Like the rest of us, Britney Spears is reminiscing on a simpler, pandemic-free time where travel restrictions didn’t exist.

The pop princess took to Instagram on Friday (Oct. 2) to share some throwback memories from her Hawaiian vacation with boyfriend Sam Asghari. The montage shows Spears playing in the beach waves at sunset, looking at koi fish, rolling in the sand and going for romantic, scenic walks.

“Just thought I’d recap some of my favorite moments from my trip to Hawaii,” she captioned the clip. “I always have an amazing time in Maui …. lunch by the pool … a splash in the ocean … and a chocolate piña colada drink that tastes like an ice cream Sunday.”

Spears went on to note that “they actually named the drink after me … Piña Britana —- no s—,” with laughing emojis. “Anyhow … this is a throwback of some of my adventures there … GOD BLESS YOU ALL !!!!”

See the post below.