There was a time when the Grammy Awards was the pinnacle of musical recognition. All of the country’s biggest artists coming together for a night where the lives of many would be changed forever. A night where music lovers would tune in to watch memorizing performances and their favorite artists win music’s most prestigious awards. Now, it’s safe to say that the Grammys do not hold that kind of significance, both to musicians and fans alike. How could this be?
Problem: Voting System
One potential reason could be that the voting system has been under heavy scrutiny for years, and people are fed up with it. It’s clear that the voting system centers around giving the awards to artists who sit at the top of the charts and sell the most records, even though the Grammy’s claim to consider talent and originality more than anything else. Year after year, artists like Pitbull or Cardi B are winning over more talented, distinguished artists in the industry. Fans take notice to this, and it hurts the Grammys’ credibility.
It’s also been said that the people behind the voting process aren’t necessarily the most experienced in the music business. According to an article by Vox, those who apply to become a Grammy voter must fit into only one of four listed criteria provided on the application. This could make a myriad of different personnel eligible to be a Grammy voter, which again takes a jab at the credibility of the award process. How are we supposed to know if the people voting really should be doing so? Learn more about how the voting process is tainted here.
Problem: Lack of Diversity
Another problem dogging the Grammys is the lack of diversity within their nomination lists. In 2017, only one female performer was given an award on air, with only 10 female winners in total. This follows a trend from previous awards shows in the past, with males earning a majority of the awards and nominations.
Hip-hop, recently taking over rock as the most popular music genre in the world, still doesn’t get its due recognition by the Grammys. In 2019, there was a massive uptick in hip-hop artist nominations and winners, but one year of recognition doesn’t make up for the years of discrimination that hip-hop faced in the past. Some of hip-hop’s biggest names, including Drake and Kendrick Lamar, refused to perform at this year’s show. Although the artists themselves didn’t comment on why they refused to perform, it can be speculated that they did not want to support a show that has continually written their genre off by not including it in the most serious awards of the night. An article by NPR also mentions how Childish Gambino was asked to perform his latest hit single “This is America” but declined, with his producer citing how Gambino did not want to tarnish the message of the song by performing it on a show whose producers are the exact people the song is calling out.
As a result of these issues, the viewership of the Grammys has cut in half since 2012:
So, what can be done to change the tide?
Solution: Quality over Quantity
It’s seems simple at this point: completely dismantle the current voting system and bring in professionals from the industry with no agendas (for example, if they’re an executive from a major recording label, to not vote for an artist from their label strictly for the potential growth in popularity/sales) that are knowledgeable in the business and whom fit more than just one given piece of criteria. Proving to artists and audiences that the Grammys give a hoot about their voting process by working to make it legitimate will assuredly help in the revival of the show’s relevancy.
Solution: More Women, Hip-Hop Nominations/Victories
This should be done not to simply coerce the nay-sayers of the show- it should instead be done to be in line with the changing culture of the music industry, one that has continually recognized women and hip-hop artists as premiere musical creators that are creating some of the best music available today. To give the Grammys some credit, hip-hop and female nominations were at its highest in some time at the 2019 awards, but this doesn’t erase the decades of segregation that these demographics have been subject too, and therefore makes the case that more than this has to be done to change the tide.
What other issues do you think the Grammys are dealing with? In what other ways do you think the Grammys could improve? Let me know!