Pro Audio Files

Why The Grammy Awards Don’t Matter

For many, the golden crown of the music industry has been a Grammy. It’s often been thought that it’s some kind of sign that you’ve finally arrived.

Awards shows are fine. But, we must maintain perspective on the true value of such events and beware of the reality of how these things work.

Judge Dredd

First of all, it’s impossible to judge art.

The older I get, the more annoying this idea gets. I’ve been watching all the oscar nominated films lately. I have no idea how or why they’re going to pick “the best.”

They’ve all been good. Each one has been completely different from the other, making it impossible to realistically compare them.

It’s the equivalent of saying you like chocolate cake better than coconut shrimp. It’s not like we’re comparing two types of chocolate cake.

Cold War Merchandise

The same goes for the Grammys. But, the Grammys are more out of touch than the Oscars.

The Grammys have rarely been on the “cutting edge.” Culturally they’re like leaving America to travel to 80’s era Soviet Union. Where blue jeans and Rock N Roll were still a rare thing.

The Grammys certainly do not have their finger on the pulse of our musical society.

Talent

That’s not to say there aren’t very talented people getting awards. There’s always a few special performances at these events and a surprise winner of sorts.

It’s nice to win an award. Whether you like who won or not, I’m sure we can all agree that artists, producers and engineers work very hard. This isn’t dependent on liking their music. You don’t get anywhere from being lazy, and often those in the entertainment business put in insane hours.

Flood of Criticism

Usually after (or during) the Grammys, our social media outlets blow up with critics. I see the points in a lot of the comments. However, what do you expect from an organization that has historically missed the boat on many of the most important recordings?

The point of this article is not to say who deserved to win and who didn’t. The point is to say that it simply doesn’t matter. It’s to suggest that you don’t use a Grammy as a “gold standard.”

I urge artists, producers and engineers to not even think about awards when creating music. See awards shows for what they are: a popularity contest within a very small musical community.

Parent’s Basement

The Grammys are like your parents trying to have a hip conversation about today’s music. Misinformed and out of date.

Where were Grammys when Hip-Hop broke? Where were they when grunge broke? Or when The Beatles broke?

People get upset about an organization that is and has always been square. I’m not bringing this up to diminish the award for the talented folks who won. I’m sure it’s a great thrill and I’m happy for them.

Clarity

I’m simply suggesting we retain clarity when we start criticizing and choosing what influences our music. Some of the most important work of the year wasn’t even considered. That’s not new this year, or new 20 years ago. It’s just how it works.

The Anger Games

I may come across as bitter. But, I’m not. The Grammys used to make me angry in my younger years. But now I see them for what they are.

They’re not void of good either. Sia’s performance was worth mentioning. It’s not black and white. It’s just one shade of grey.

Represent

If you think that the Grammys are a 360 degree view of art, you’re misled. It’s barely a view of one block of my Brooklyn neighborhood.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is: cutting edge is rarely represented at music award shows. If you’re pushing musical boundaries, chances are you’ll be snubbed by The Recording Academy. And you shouldn’t care.

Look at many of the classic albums over the years. How many won a Grammy when they were out? When you research music, do you look at whether they won a Grammy?

Probably not. You pay attention to the current it created. That current could be a popular one or a bubbling spring. You’re most likely in tune with the cultural impact.

Do a little research on albums and artists that have been snubbed at the Grammys. You’ll be shocked.

Mission Impossible

Let’s stop writing and recording music with the intention of it being a hit or winning a Grammy. It’s destroying the real impact that music can have on society. We enter into an emotionless void when those considerations come into play.

What stands the test of time? Expression through art. Say something. Please do not figuratively say “give me an award” in your music. I don’t want to hear that desperation in the production or writing.

Give me something real. As John Lennon would say, “Just give me some truth.”

Missing our best stuff?

Sign up to be the first to learn about new tutorials, sales, giveaways and more.

We will never spam you. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at guitaristmarkmarshall.com

Free Video on Mixing Low End

Download a FREE 40-minute tutorial from Matthew Weiss on mixing low end.

Powered by ConvertKit
  • Manufactured artists (even though the music is soulless and the lyrics are generic) work like dogs. Media spots, world tours and having to pump out endless tracks is a crazy amount of commitment. They do work twice as hard as the rest of us and deserve some kind of recognition.

    Saying that, I still get angry as hell watching award shows, I just can’t do it. There is so much amazing music in the world, the fact that we only hear the same 10 artists on commercial radio, MTV and awards shows makes me sick, literally!

  • Femmegrrrl

    I really loved this. I’m a professional comedian and it’s the same thing in comedy. It’s the same 10 comics that get a comedy central special, and people that are actually pushing boundaries won’t get that, because they have to sell ads. All the Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys are are a vehicle to sell ads. That said, I watch them if I’m home.

  • Ray L. Merritt

    Totally agree. The absolute best are rarely “discovered” and honored.

  • Great article. Regarding Sia and Chandelier, everytime I hear that song I change the words to “I wanna be a mandolineer, a mandonlineer.” But as a singer and a songwriter, the way she uses the word chandelier to run up the scale to the high note is briliant in terms of vocal placement. Very smart.

  • Ritchie

    I know the Grammy’s were a laughing stock throughout the sixties because they refused to recognize the Beatles with any Grammy awards unless they agreed to show up in person to receive the award. So they snubbed the Beatles for twenty years. Now they’re sucking their chest in to recognize and work with the Beatles. The Playboy Music Awards held more sway in the industry than the Grammy’s in the sixties.

    But that doesn’t erase the knowledge that they chose Englebert Humperdink over the Beatles and Christopher Cross over other talented artists in the seventies.

    They’re a joke.

/> /> /> /> /> /> /> /> /> />