“Are the Grammys Really About Good Music?” [SPOILER: No. I Mean, Are You Kidding Me?]

The Grammys are about two things: (1) Creating a highly rated mass-appeal Sunday night primetime TV show; and (2) squeezing out the last bit of sales from the releases of the previous year. In other words, the Grammys aren’t about the music at all. They’re about money.

But maybe that’s just me. The Conversation looks at this question from a couple of different angles.

One of the biggest controversies about the Grammy Awards is whether they measure an artist, song or album’s quality, market share or some combination of the two.

Although the voting members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences are instructed to consider only quality, there are reasons to believe that the selections are made according to more amorphous criteria.

The voters – a select group of recording artists, conductors, songwriters and engineers – operate in a professional environment, rather than a cultural one. That is, they’re prone to be as concerned with sales potential as they are with artistry. “Quality” is never defined, and anonymous voters, of course, aren’t required to justify their choices.

While there’s no reason to challenge the honesty of the process, it’s safe to assume that it pits commercial interests against cultural ones. It’s also reasonable to assume that, like all electorates, Grammy voters are self-interested and inclined to vote in ways that might financially benefit them.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on ““Are the Grammys Really About Good Music?” [SPOILER: No. I Mean, Are You Kidding Me?]

  • February 12, 2017 at 10:24 am

    The Grammys are just an exercise in “let’s pat ourselves on the back” for the American music industry, for how many sales they made. Only the most popular and best-selling artists win, and nine times out of ten their music sucks, and then you have to put up with Kanye.


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