The Grammys are Becoming Irrelevant: What can the Music Industry do to Fix That?

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!

-Brandon Lynch

6 thoughts on “The Grammys are Becoming Irrelevant: What can the Music Industry do to Fix That?

  1. I really agree with your thoughts on why the Grammys are becoming irrelevant and how they need to fix them! Growing up I remember them being a huge deal, but now I don’t pay any attention to them at all. I remember a couple years ago that Ed Sheeran’s song “Shape of You”, which is a basic, repetitive, and unoriginal song about being in love with a girl because of her appearance, won the best pop song over several songs that had true meaning and messages in them. That was when I really gave up on the Grammys. I think the lack of diversity and voting system are two huge reasons for this, and I’m glad you highlighted them in your article!

  2. I think this is a fascinating issue that plagues not only this award show, but award shows in general. The same complaints can be applied to literally any award show going at this point, specifically the lack of diversity in nominations and winners, popularity vs. quality, tainted voter bases, etc. One thing I can’t help but wonder, though, is if these issues aren’t even what is causing the Grammy’s to lose viewership in the first place. All award programs seem to be losing television viewership, so I wonder if this isn’t just a larger trend of people not wanting to watch award programs. People aren’t likely to sit down to watch a three hour plus program when they could be binging a show or watching a movie. While the points you have raised contribute, I am sure, I think in this media saturated world people just want to watch the content and not really see the awards.

  3. It is very clear to see how much the Grammy’s are declining. The issues you have brought forth are very interesting. Along with changing the voting system, maybe the should try to change the show in general. In the busy world we live in, it is nearly impossible to find three hours to just sit and watch an awards show. If the Grammy’s can find a way to make their show different than a normal awards show, I believe their popularity could increase again.

  4. I really love how you structured this post presenting the problem and possible solutions! It’s honestly kind of sad that top-chart artists are the ones recieving Grammys because catchy, tendy music is generally not quality music. I think there needs to be an overall protocol for awarding Grammy artists, and more females and hip-hop artists should be represented. I also think it’s a good idea to bring in qualified, disassociated industry professionals as judges. Great post!

  5. At this point, the Grammys should follow the other award shows outlines. The Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys are all still relevant, because they have made changes. These other shows have their faults, but clearly not as many as the Grammys. I personally agree that artistry should be the focus of the Grammys. That’s what all of the other award shows do as well. Avengers may be nominated for special effects at the Oscars, but it’s never nominated for best picture. Popularity does not equate to quality. As the voters are a part of the music industry, they should be voting for artistry.

  6. I agree that we are getting to a time where people are no longer okay with just letting things slide. You’re right that things need to change for people to start paying attention again to the Grammys. Those that feel excluded, I believe, would be forgiving if some changes were to be made. And of course, inclusion of everyone is a must for things in todays day to do well.

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