When you think about it, does it seem strange how much weight we put in Grammys, Oscars, and Emmys? And are they different in nature than Pulitzers and Nobel prizes? Any more or less political…that may be up for debate.
Funny how we as musicians and engineers attach our legitimacy to an award, almost as much as colleges attach their legitimacy to their accreditation. The difference is…I’m not sure if Grammys accredit anything! …have we mistakenly placed waaaay too much stock in a popularity pissing contest?
At one time, it seemed that Grammys went to the biggest sellers over the (seemingly) more creative or distinctive music, so their meaning during those times was nil in my view-- they simply correlated very strongly with sales figures.
Today, I have no idea, given that the sales picture is so very different in the digital age. Plus I haven’t followed popular music in so long that I don’t know who everyone is, let alone who’s winning the Grammys.
I don’t watch much TV so can’t comment on the Emmys. But Oscars are, I think, the most prestigious of the lot and there have been many periods where there was little to no correlation between ticket sales and Oscar wins. Some really adventurous and creative work won recognition pretty often, although there are plenty of times when the Best Picture is the obvious feel-good or socially-conscious story. There was a period starting in the early 70s when some truly great filmmaking was recognized even if the box office performance was only modest. (In fact, hasn’t there been criticism that the Academy Awards have gone to films that hardly anyone even went to?)
I think there’s certainly politics in Grammy nominations and awards. While “quality” (whatever that means) comes into play, yes it’s basically a popularity contest as to whom do we want to thrust on our shoulders for the victory lap to demonstrate that music is alive and well and means something to somebody. Part of the reason I say this is seeing who gets nominated and/or wins over the years. It used to be Pop and Rock or a famous singer/songwriter. Now it’s mostly hip-hop and Rap IIRC. It’s trendy and sales-based in many ways. Big names get big votes. The “Best New Artist” (is that a Grammy category?) is more like “you’re awesome, give us more, we think you’re the future”. Kind of a gentle nudge to motivate that person to keep going and perpetuate the trendy/sales thing.
The term “dog and pony show” comes to mind. Is music a competition? Apparently it is. Why does one thing have to be “better” than another, or be judged that way. Stand back, I think I’m about to become irreverant (which is a radioactive emotion). Or maybe I already have.
Being able to say you won a Grammy (or other pertinent award), or were even nominated, grants instantaneous credibility and career boosting longevity. No wonder it’s coveted. It’s the golden ticket, the proverbial pot of gold. Who wouldn’t want that? As they said in Cheers, it’s a place where “everybody knows your name”.
I know each awards show has its own way of doing things, but for the most part, they are all just political cash. Put a grammy on your name and you can triple your prices. These awards mean real cash for the people who get them.
You can’t liken awards like these to colleges getting accreditation.
Awards oare fripperies. Accreditation should show that the college doesn’t abuse students, does offer genuine education. Opposite could be said on most awards winners.
That was my feeling too, since way back—haven’t really paid much attention to how fair that assessment is today.
I remember chatting with my friend on the phone a day or two after the Grammy Awards, and he said, “So, I guess Michael Bolton is the best singer in the world?” After a quiet shudder, I think I basically explained that the Grammys were about an industry giving itself awards for selling a lot of albums.
I’m so glad that at IRD we have risen about that system; the voting, the politics, the schmoozing. If your audio chops reach an impressive level, you might log in one day and see that the title of Certified Golden Ear has been bestowed upon you from heaven above. Ahh, divine grace.