We love the Grammy Awards in Georgia. So much so that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent its excellent hip-hop reporter, Sonia Murray, to blog in Los Angeles live from the event Sunday. We have good reason to be excited. Many of last night's winners -- Ludacris, Ciara, Third DayÂ and T.I. -- have ties to the Peach State.
But the record industry hasn't realized how archiacÂ it has become in the wake of new technologies.Â However stylish it might be, the award show seems almost quaint compared to its former self 20 years ago.
In 1987, bands like Poison were selling millions of copies of hair-metal hokum (remember "Look What the Cat Dragged In"?). The same record today -- featuring that bedroom anthem for the ages, "Unskinny Bop" -- would be lucky to sell a few hundred thousand. Indeed, the standards of being a hitÂ have changed so much thatÂ selling aÂ million records would be considered aÂ smash.
Pop music critics have been bemoaning the vanilla flavor of theÂ Grammys for years, but now in the wake of internet downloading (legal and otherwise), in which music is measured in megabytes not physical CDs, the critics have quantifiable evidence to support long-held charges of irrelevance. Fewer and fewer people are buying records. Why then isÂ there so much to-do about the Grammys?
Perhaps it's denial. But it could also be the force of nostalgia. David Marchese, from Salon, reports the Grammys -- that bastion of the young and hip --Â were headlined by Earth, Wind and Fire, the Police, Lionel Ritchie and the Eagles. The president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences,Â Neil Portnoy, gushed over his youthful excitement after seeing Elvis perform on TV. He thought, "I want to be a record executive."
Let's see, Elvis has been dead for how long?
The foundation of the record industry was poured during the heyday of Elvis and the Beatles. The industry controlled the artists, the recording technology and the means of distribution. It had a lock on everything and all was good. And when MTV came along, things got even better, as long as the MTV was the gatekeeper in charge of who gets in and for how long.
That's no longer the case and will not be the case again, as Mark Swed notes in Sunday's Los Angeles Times. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. The irony is that newspapers like theÂ Atlanta Journal-Constitution and my own paperÂ are hoping coverage of the Grammys will attract younger readers. But they are not buying records. Baby boomers are, and they are already reading the papers. Georgia newspapersÂ are rightfully cheery about Georgians being in the national spotlight, but that spotlight won't be there for long. It's just a matter of time.
-- John Stoehr
Bloggers We Love
Bridgette Redman and Lansing Theater
Drew McManus' "Neo Classical" at the Partial Observer
Marc Moss (Missoula, MT artist)
Mary Louise Schumacher's "Art City"
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