The Good and Bad of the Grammys30th January 2014 • 1 comment
If you’re looking for a recap of winners or sharp tongued critique of what starlet wore what gown and was paired up with which celeb, this isn’t the place for you. This was my first Grammy season as a member and it seemed an appropriate time to share a couple of observations on what the organization does well and what they really could improve upon.
A Couple of Suggestions
The first being the annual Grammy compilation. Each year brings a new compilation of the year’s nominees. This year’s looks like this:
As you can see, it features Daft Punk, Lorde, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, etc. While I completely understand that a compilation of Grammy nominees would have to include the artists nominated for the evening’s more coveted awards, which do have a tendency to go to more mainstream artists, what I don’t understand is why NARAS, the organization that oversees all things Grammy, doesn’t capitalize on that opportunity to showcase artists the public may not have heard a million times. Perhaps put Lorraine Feather, (Best Jazz Vocal Nominee), on the compilation, along with Laura Sullivan (Best New Age Album winner), or Jennifer Gasoi (Winner, Best Children’s Album), to name but very few. These are all talented artists who don’t happen to be shoved down people’s throats by the ClearChannel/Live Nation machine yet are nominees and winners the same as the others. The awards may be voted on by industry peers but the performances remain by the Top 40 bubblegum darlings, save for the occasional exception, and the annual nominee compilation looks like any given volume of ‘NOW!That’s What I Call Music! and that’s why it’s difficult for proper musicians to take any of it too seriously. I do so hope at some point NARAS broadens their horizons a bit, if for no other reason than to try to expose people who buy the compilation to some really incredible talent they may not know about otherwise.
Another thing I really, really wish they’d do is get on top of The Recording Artists Coalition. I’ve said this countless times. I’ve said this so many times times readers are probably sick of me talking about it; especially those who follow either (or, God forbid both, of my Twitter accounts!) but they still do nothing with the RAC. In theory, the RAC is supposed to be vigorously advocating for artists rights. They’re supposed to be working to protect creators, lobby for change, etc. Grammys on the Hill sort of does that, but certainly not to the extent it should, or could, especially with the weight of the Grammy name and the artists that the Grammy name could attract if they really tried.
So, What do They do Right?
MusiCares. I cannot possibly sing the praises of MusiCares enough. It’s been mentioned on Thirty Roses several times before as we’ve tried to mention upcoming events, (though there are far too many to keep up with) and we spoke very highly of them when Local H frontman Scott Lucas was attacked in Russia last year. It was MusiCares that helped him get the vocal cord treatment he needed. For those unfamiliar, MusiCares is an adjunct organization of the Grammys which assists musicians and music industry professionals with everything from obtaining basic medical and dental checkups to emergency medical procedures, emergency financial assistance, addiction services and councelling, and a host of other services. Do visit their web site: It’s very easy to navigate and the calendar of upcoming clinics is on the right and organized by region. All services are confidential.
The other thing I love are the member events. The organization is broken down by regions or cities, depending on where you live. The Chicago Chapter is great about hosting events for us fairly regularly; I’d say at least once a month or so. I can only speak about the Chicago chapter but we’ve had some really cool events! These have included Daniel Lanois speaking to us for hours (amazing hours, not boring, drawn out hours) at Shure microphone headquarters in the most sonically perfect room I’ve ever been spoken to in, Young Guru speaking to us about everything he and we wanted to talk about, an exclusive screening of Muscle Shoals, Joy Williams from The Civil Wars speaking to us and a post-Joy Williams cocktail party, and just the other day they had a really rad Grammy party for us. All of this is free for members and we can usually bring a guest. Additionally, we get to chat, mingle, network and meet some pretty incredible people. The Chicago chapter board members are all really nice and very accessible and I’ve had nothing but great experiences. I’m still slightly heartbroken that I didn’t win the Shure headphones I’ve been swooning over at the party the other night, but aside from that my first year as a Grammy member has been quite an adventure. I’ve befriended literally hundreds of amazing musicians and experienced things I never dreamed of. If only the organization at its highest level would pick up on some of the artist oriented energy that the chapters have.