Recording Academy

Mason’s Letter To Academy Members

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This is how you pour gasoline on a fire.

Let’s see, published so far are the Grammy payments to law firms. Joel Katz’s firm, Greenberg Traurig, renegotiated the $20 million a year deal with CBS for the telecast. Good work! Until you find out the firm was paid $6,309,936 that year, 2016. The firm was paid $1,758,388 in 2017, the last year for which figures are available. And Greenberg Traurig was paid $1,167,029 in 2015. What were all these fees for? Negotiating employment agreements, dealing with internal lawsuits? I mean, paying top buck when your budget is only so big…who is making these decisions, didn’t anybody think about hiring inside counsel?

That’s right, Deborah Dugan.

But it wasn’t only Greenberg Traurig. Proskauer Rose made $906,691 in 2017, and that year, in addition to the Greenberg and Proskauer fees, there was another $3,737,400 paid out in legal fees! So, in 2017, the Grammy organization paid over $6 million in legal fees, who do they think they are, Boeing?

But it gets worse. The Grammys are all about the awards. Who does the nominating?

Well, it turns out it’s a coterie of supposed experts. It’d be like a bunch of directors from the sixties deciding who should be nominated for Oscars. Actually, that might be better than what we’ve got, but the truth is it’s undemocratic, and there would be no transparency, the way the music business has liked it since its inception… Come on, can you say “royalties”? But no, the Grammys are run just like the business, opaque.

So Harvey Mason, Jr. tells us Dugan’s attorney offered to drop the claims, have Deborah Dugan pack up her bags and go home, in exchange for millions. Are we supposed to be offended by that? Does Mason think we’re ignorant musicians who don’t understand how the world works?

Dugan signed a contract, lengthy according to her attorney, and I’m sure it includes a provision whereupon the Grammys can fire Dugan for behavior beyond the pale. I’m sure there are even examples in said contract. And when you fire someone for cause, they get bupkes, i.e. nothing. So Dugan takes the gig, gives up a solid gig with Red, moves across the country, gets involved in this imbroglio and is willing to walk away with nothing, stab herself in the heart for the good of the Academy? Give me a break, take a look at Muilenberg’s golden parachute. Furthermore, an attorney is an advocate, a representative, their goal is to negotiate, to get you the best deal they can. Isn’t that what Harvey Mason, Jr. wants Greenberg Traurig to do, as he is a personal client of the firm?

Speaking of conflicts of interest…


As for the dueling investigations… Does anybody trust these anymore? It’s like hiring McKinsey, so you can blame the consultant when things go haywire. And how much are these investigations gonna cost? Quite possibly more than it would to pay Ms. Dugan to go home for good!

And the leaks just keep on coming.

Dugan didn’t get along, she didn’t play the game.

But she thought she was hired to clean up the mess. Come on, do you think Neil Portnow was gonna do this, the man who couldn’t even make nice over criticism of the lack of women being nominated and winning Grammys? Sure, maybe he misspoke, telling women to “step up,” but why wasn’t he conciliatory to begin with, why even go on the offensive?

Then Mason goes on to defend the Trustees. They work for free, yippee!

Yeah, for free at those meetings in Hawaii.

Mason is as stupid as Portnow when it comes to defending himself.

As for leaks… That’s how the world works these days. Hell, we have a President of the United States being impeached and there’s been one leak after another, because that’s how you get the truth out! Expect more leaks in this case.

As for the Gammy whistleblower, whose name has been leaked, i.e. Claudine Little, who claims the environment she worked in was “toxic and intolerable” and “abusive and bullying”…just ask Amy Klobuchar’s assistants, Klobuchar’s bad behavior has been well-documented and the “New York Times” just endorsed her for the Democratic nomination for President!


And people are always stunned how business works. This is the territory, and it’s not only men, but women too. And it’s a fast-moving world of big egos and why in the hell does the unverified statement of one employee put the head of the whole organization on leave?

I’ll tell you, Mason was inundated with input from other employees and he’s unsophisticated in these matters, never mind aligned with the usual suspects wanting business as usual.

Now if you follow business, boards are responsible for the behavior of the company, for the actions taken. And if Mason is so right, how come we aren’t hearing from the rest of those Trustees, i.e. board members, regarding what they think? Oh, they’re sucking at the tit and they don’t want to give up those perks while working for “free.” Which is why companies try to exclude board members who are doing it for the money, that clouds your opinion.

So a kerfuffle has turned into a conflagration.

And let’s take the worst case scenario, Dugan yelled at Little.

There’s no allegation Dugan hit her. There’s no allegation that Dugan fired her. Is this a reason to blow up the Grammys just before the telecast, when everybody is paying attention, which they only do once a year?

Now I don’t know what really happened.

But I know more than I did Thursday night.

And as the days go on, I’ll gain even more knowledge.


As for those vaunted Trustees, is any of them of the caliber of Chuck D, who defended Ms. Dugan, who has a reputation for telling the truth, speaking his mind?

So they tried to clean up the Grammys, run it legitimately, they even formed a task force to find the best candidate, who turned out to be a woman with experience in the field, and with celebrity musicians. And I wonder how much that process cost. And now Dugan is trying to institute change and it’s her fault? And alleged behavior trumps ideas?

If Mason was a leader, he’d accept responsibility and take prompt action. But he won’t, he’s a typical two-faced musician, making nice to your face and then stabbing you in the back thereafter.

Oh, don’t argue. Come on, you know how it works, in order to work a musician has to be nice to everybody, that’s how you make it. It’s only when you get to the top that you can do things your way. And even if you do, the label might take it out on you…remember George Michael with Sony or Neil Young with Geffen?

Institutions need to be challenged on a regular basis. To stand still is to die. This is how the labels almost lost complete control of recordings with the advent of Napster. And the truth is today they do not have the control they once did, and never will again. What happens when CBS no longer wants to pay $20 million a year for the telecast? What’s the plan then? Oh, you know it’s coming.

Yes, the artist has gained traction in the internet era. And Dugan was trying to take the focus off the lifers populating the labels and the Grammy organization and she’s the one paying the price.

Only in Hollywood.

“Interim Grammy Chief Slams Deborah Dugan in Letter; Warns of ‘Misinformation,’ ‘Leaks'”: https://bit.ly/3aw9c8E

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