Boygenius received the Amplify Award at the Billboard Power 100 event in Los Angeles on Wednesday night (Jan. 31).
The group, signed to Interscope, was presented with the honor by Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge, who began his speech by praising Republic Records megastar Taylor Swift, who dethroned him at the top of the Power 100 list this year.
“Let me say that I’ve never, ever, in my entire career been so thrilled to be No. 2 on a list,” he said at the event, which was held at NeueHouse Hollywood. “I suppose I’m honored as well as a bit relieved to be named No. 2. Many, many, many congratulations, Taylor, on your No. 1 award. You thoroughly deserve it. You are completely unique, and to see the heights that you have gone to worldwide with your voice has given all of us who know you and work with you enormous pleasure and enormous pride.”
During his brief time on stage, Grainge made no direct mention of the elephant in the room: The music giant’s industry-shaking decision to pull its music from TikTok after licensing renewal talks between the two companies collapsed. But he did appear to make a subtle nod to the dispute, which involves, in large part, disagreements over both artist compensation and artificial intelligence.
“I also wanted to be here tonight … to highlight the importance of using this room for collective good,” Grainge said. “There’s an enormous amount of power in this room, that’s why it’s called the Power awards. And I feel extremely strongly and grateful that we’re in an industry that has provided us with such pleasure, such joy and a living. But we have the platform to be able to use it for our artists, to fight for them to be fairly compensated, as well as protected, particularly against unethical A.I.”
While introducing Boygenius — the trio composed of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, who are up for a whopping five Grammys this year, including album of the year — Grainge said its members “exemplify what it means to use power for good” before ceding the mic.
The first of the trio to speak was Dacus, who opened by shouting out Pass the Mic Foundation, the non-profit organization that organized land acknowledgements at each of the band’s recent tour stops. She proceeded to make a land acknowledgement from the stage, noting that Los Angeles County “occupies land originally and still inhabited and cared for by the Tongva, Tataviam, Serrano, Kizh and Chumash peoples.”
Dacus continued by recognizing Landback — a movement “to get Indigenous Lands back into Indigenous hands,” according to landback.org — as well as three other organizations the band worked with on its 2023 tour: Reverb, the Ally Coalition and Calling All Crows. All of them, she said, helped organize tabling at the group’s tour stops to educate fans “about local and national organizations that work to defend LGBTQ rights, abortion access and environmental concerns.”
When Baker stepped up to the podium, she said of receiving the award, “We realize it’s useful to publicly acknowledge and recommit ourselves to these values … in order to draw attention to causes we care about. But ultimately, this is a community effort. It should be important to everyone, because it’s important for everyone’s individual well-being. This is not a task for those with more power to participate in, that those with less may not participate in. The perceived scale of a person’s impact doesn’t increase or diminish your individual responsibility to act each day in a way that protects and proves or makes more equitable the world we inhabit together.”
Lastly, Bridgers acknowledged all three band members’ history of being “made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe in concerts when we were kids or in work environments later when we started making music ourselves.” She also shouted out Calling All Crows, which she said did “a demonstration for us and our tour about how to spot and stop sexual harassment or sexual violence, whether you see it in a crowd or on your own crew.”
Bridgers also mentioned, as she has previously, that she had an abortion while she was on tour in 2021 before noting that the band worked “with local organizations who make sure that other people get easy, safe access to abortion” on its 2023 tour. She concluded: “We like to create a show environment that we would have benefited from as kids. But hopefully someday, everybody’s doing it, and nobody’s getting awards.”