Tina M. Tchen interviewed by Billboard for article, “Recording Academy appoints Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff, to chair task force”
Tina M. Tchen was interviewed on March 6, 2018 by Billboard for the article, “Recording Academy appoints Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff, to chair task force: Exclusive,” following the announcement by the Recording Academy regarding partner Tina Tchen’s appointment to chair a task force with a focus on inclusion and diversity issues within the academy and the broader music community. The article stated, “Focused on female inclusion and diversity issues, the force will be charged with identifying ‘the various barriers and unconscious biases faced by underrepresented communities throughout the music industry and, specifically, across Recording Academy operations and policies,’ looking at governance, hiring and promotion practices, membership, awards and the Grammys telecast, the Academy said in a statement. Though some in the industry wanted a record company executive to chair the group, Tchen’s outsider status reflects the Academy’s intent to keep the task force independent and objective. ‘The fact that she lacks business ties to the music industry ensures her objectivity as chair,’ Portnow said in a statement. ‘In this moment, the Recording Academy can do more than reflect what currently exists; we can help lead the industry into becoming the inclusive music community we want it to be -- a responsibility that the board and I take seriously. Tina Tchen is an accomplished advocate for women and impact-oriented leader versed in convening disparate stakeholders for a common purpose.’”
The article added, “Tchen talked to Billboard about how she got involved and how she plans to attack in the latest chapter of her 30-plus year commitment to fostering gender equity and diversity and quelling sexual misconduct.”
How did you come to the Recording Academy’s attention?
I had worked with the Recording Academy when we were in the White House through the "In Performance” music series. We had a great working relationship on those events. Neil Portnow called and asked if I would consider being involved with the task force. As the staff there knows, these are issues I care deeply about; what I’ve been working on my entire adult life.
Might not having a music industry background prove to be a disadvantage?
It’s probably both a blessing and a curse here in the sense that I come to this as a music fan but not a music industry insider. But I know these issues very well in lots of other contexts. I think that was viewed as an opportunity to be able to work with all different aspects of the music industry without any particular relationship to any of them.