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Music Industry Veteran Margie Hauser Breaks Down Joining NARAS and the GRAMMY Awards

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Music Industry Veteran Margie Hauser Breaks Down Joining NARAS and the GRAMMY Awards
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Of the music awards available for artists to achieve, none stand above the GRAMMY Awards. For many musicians, the golden gramophone is more than just a trophy; it is a representation of acknowledgement by peers for outstanding achievement, a high-point in an industry that is known for its grueling hours and a testament that all of the hard work and sacrifices have been worth it.

However, the music industry can be a murky place and often artists and other professionals can feel lost trying to navigate a path to what many consider to be the pinnacle in music achievements. For example, many people are not even aware of NARAS, the non-profit organization behind the GRAMMY Awards. Standing for the "National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences" and also known as the "Recording Academy", the NARAS membership is composed of artists, songwriters, producers, engineers, performers, and professionals in the music industry.

Margie Hauser, a professional songwriter and longtime voting member of the Recording Academy herself, has sought throughout her career to educate and counsel new artists as they maneuver through the music industry. Below she provides insights into NARAS memberships and the GRAMMY awards.

What is NARAS?

According to its website, the mission of the Recording Academy is "to recognize excellence in the recording arts and sciences, cultivate the well-being of the music community, and ensure that music remains an indelible part of our culture." From musicians to audio producers to recording engineers, today the Recording Academy has over 12,000 voting members and more than 3,000 professional (non-voting) members.

Voting members of the organization are creators in the music industry such as performers, songwriters, sound engineers, and instrumentalists amongst others. Hauser said these are the members who determine the nominations and winners of the GRAMMYs each year. Professional memberships are extended to those in the industry that support music creators such as labels, publishers, agents, lawyers, industry writers such as journalists, and music educators such as university or music school teachers.

As the largest assemblage of professionals within the industry LARAS funds and hosts a variety of community-based initiatives related to music throughout the year, but they are most famous for the GRAMMY Awards which are televised live in February and millions tune in to watch each year.

The history of the GRAMMY Awards 

A little known fact: the GRAMMYs and indeed the Recording Academy itself would not exist today were it not for the Hollywood Walk of Fame project. Having decided in the mid-1950's to construct what has today become a world-famous landmark, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce formed a committee who asked for the help of some of the major recording industry executives at the time in compiling a list of people in the music business who should be honored with a star on the walk of fame.

Quickly finding they had more people on their list than stars on the boulevard allocated to them, the music committee realized that the recording industry lacked an association and corresponding award for merit and achievements. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences had begun issuing the Emmys nearly a decade prior and the Oscars had begun twenty years before, and it was decided that an association and award ceremony should be created in the style of the two other great Hollywood industries.

Historical newspapers reveal that the award was originally to be named an "Eddie" after Thomas Edision, the inventor of the phonograph. However, it was eventually decided that the award would be called a Gramophone Award after the later version of the phonograph and precursor to a record player, and has been nicknamed a GRAMMY in years since.

How does one become a NARAS Member?

Hauser emphasizes that while the Recording Academy's focus is on fostering the community of their existing members, there is an open invitation for newcomers to join and those hoping to make connections and build their career within the music industry should consider becoming a member.

In order to ensure that consideration for GRAMMY nominations and winners is made by those who most deserve a say, NARAS has a highly vetted recommendation process for its membership. To receive an invitation to join the academy and receive membership status, artists need to receive recommendations by two peers within the music industry. This process is essential to help weed out those who just want to make a name for themselves and aren't actively engaged in the community. The Recording Academy is rigid in this policy, stating applications that do not have two peer recommendations will simply be considered incomplete and not be processed.

In addition to the peer recommendation, applicants will also need to complete a career profile detailing their involvement in the music industry. In order to become a member and vote in the present year's GRAMMY considerations, their application and recommendations must be submitted by the end of February.  All new member submissions are considered by NARAS' peer review panel each spring and decisions are sent out by early July.

Why do NARAS and the GRAMMY Awards matter?

Many people assume the GRAMMY Awards are nothing more than what is presented in the live broadcasted awards show. Big-time artists and much-hyped newcomers accepting trophies in a night dominated by the major players in the music industry. It can be hard to understand how this glitzy and glamorous event could ever be related to those grinding every day within the music industry to get their music heard.

However, in total there are over 90 GRAMMY Awards categories, and each year there are winners who have not signed with a major record label or seen any of their tracks top the charts. According to Hauser, winning or even being nominated for a GRAMMY can bring increased attention to an artist's music. With a history of 63 years, being able to use the phrases "GRAMMY-nominated" or "GRAMMY-winning" in a biography carries weight that can help further a career within the industry.

The rigorous vetting process in place to join NARAS means that there is standing and legitimacy to the decisions of the voting members. They take their position in honoring talent seriously, knowing that the choices they make for both nominations and awards can be career-changers for the artists involved. An integral part of the music industry today, beginning any sort of journey with the Recording Academy can feel intimidating to newcomers, but according to Hauser knowing the ins and outs of it is crucial to being prepared for longevity in a career.

About Margie Hauser

Margie Hauser is a GRAMMY-nominated professional songwriter and producer. Her work has charted multiple times on Billboard, and she is a voting member of the Recording Academy. She has experience writing across genres, including jazz, soundtrack, hip hop, world, and EDM. In recent years, Hauser has chosen to focus on helping young artists with passion find their personal brand by writing and producing music that is tailored for their singles and EPs while staying relevant within the market. 

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