New voting academy members aim to make Brit Awards nominations more diverse
Organisers of the Brit Awards have invited more than 1,000 people across the UK music industry to help select its next nominees, in a bid to make the system more diverse and gender balanced.
The Brits Voting Academy said that the new 1,200 members will "refresh" its voting system following a major review earlier this year.
The new invite list - which includes 718 potential voters for the 2017 Brit winners - represents an almost even gender split (52% male and 48% female) and 17% black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) members.
This compares to the 70%-30% male-female split and 15% Bame voters that contributed to the 2016 awards.
Ged Doherty, chairman of the BPI who led the review, said that the changes would signify a general improvement in the awards and keep them up to date with modern music trends.
He said: "I'm really proud that we've taken firm action to refresh the academy to ensure that it keeps up with trends in music and society at large.
"I believe that as a result of these changes the Brits will be better equipped to reflect the diverse nature of Britain and British music.
"There's been a long-held myth that Brits winners and nominees are decided by industry executives in a smoke-filled room, but the simple truth is that the awards are voted for each year by a 1,000-plus strong voting academy made up of experts drawn from all areas of music."
The voting academy body convenes to select the nominees of most of the annual Brit Awards and is updated each year with around 300 new voters.
Members are invited to the academy on the basis of their music expertise and knowledge and are sourced from all areas of the industry, including artists, retailers, managers, producers, record labels and social media.
For the 2017 awards, a specialist committee made up of leading black and Asian figures from both music and media was appointed, co-chaired by Paulette Long OBE and Kwame Kwaten, to advise on the academy's voting structures and make-up.
Brits chairman Jason Iley said: "As the most important awards in the British music calendar, we have a responsibility to be truly reflective of what is happening in music so that we can support new and emerging talent as well as recognise and celebrate mainstream commercial success.
"To do this it's important we have voting academy members who are both knowledgeable and passionate about all types of music and who also reflect the diversity of our consumers and country."
The voting academy invites were sent out on Monday, a month ahead of the voting, which will be open between Friday December 9 and Tuesday December 13.
The Brit Awards 2017 will be broadcast live on ITV from London's O2 Arena on Wednesday February 22.
Matt Hancock, the Minister of State for Digital and Culture, has welcomed the changes.
He said: "Talent knows no boundaries, and our creative industries, including our world-renowned music sector, are potentially one of the greatest forces for smashing diversity barriers that still exist today.
"I make no apology for holding the creative industries to a higher standard than most, and think that the Brits' overhaul of their voting system is a great step in making sure that the UK's music industry reflects the rich diversity of UK society today."