Grammy Nomination Fantasies

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Once again all the Grammy nomination razzamatazz has fired up, with local label ZenHill Records of course leading the charge with its recent press release, "ZenHill Artists on the Long List for a Grammy."

One of our editors took a couple of incoming email shots from a so-called "reporter" over at Free Press Houston for Rocks Off's alleged failure to cover and support our city's "wonderful Grammy nominees." Of course, if this Free Press reporter had done any homework on the subject -- homework, grammar, spell checking, fact checking not being particularly high editorial priorities at FPH -- he would've eventually stumbled upon this bit of less than pleasant Houston Grammy history and grabbed a clue.

So, local bands, labels, producers, music geeks, scenesters, time for the annual reality check.

Look, boys and girls, half the albums made during the year ON THE PLANET get thrown into the initial mountain of releases that are sorted through to compile the initial first-round recommendations. The recommendations, i.e. "the long list" in the press release (and long is the operative word!) are sent along for more weeding. Most will be dismissed but some of these, a miniscule amount in fact, are eventually placed on the list of official Grammy nominees. When your band ends up on that list, then you can trumpet your "Grammy nomination." But until then, you're just another band or label or producer sailing another CD into a huge stack. That's why it says "The official list for consideration for nomination." You made a list, a very, very, very long list. That in itself is nice, but you are not, repeat, NOT, "Grammy nominated."

In reality, the odds of ZenHill acts Sideshow Tramps or Roky Moon & BOLT, who, according to ZenHill's press release, have made it out of round one of the regionals, becoming actual Grammy nominees -- nominees, mind you, not even winners -- is staggering. It's like thinking your Little Leaguer is going to be called up to the Yankees in the middle of a pennant race. And the likelihood of either act -- or of the Tontons, Champion Sisters or Robert Ellis, the other Houston acts making the long list -- actually being on the final Grammy lists for the awards is virtually nil. Zero. Nada.

Still, every year about this time we begin to get press releases from bands and from publicity people touting Grammy this, Grammy that. Just a couple of months back we received an announcement from Andrew Karnavas about his Andy-Roo children's record being nominated for a Grammy. We immediately sent him an email requesting an interview and one was set up for the following day, but by the next morning someone must have informed him that he was about to step in a river of Grammy quicksand because he issued a new press release retracting his earlier Grammy assertions, explaining that he had misunderstood and that he was in fact not nominated for a Grammy. Maybe someone forwarded him the link to the Sugar Bayou fiasco. We hope so. But the fact remains that the issuance of these false claims of Grammy nomination are an annual thing, like ragweed and hay fever.

One of my colleagues probably has the best take on the psychology behind this false blowing-our-own horn advertising.

"I think it's just ego stroking by bands that are, for the most part, putting out inferior product."

One p.r. person for a local jazz singer actually emailed us the other day that her client was "Grammy-recognized." When we asked her to explain that, we got a curious reply: "That's the term they supplied us." When we asked who "they" was, the line went dead.

We've heard horror stories about studio and label execs luring young bands with vague promises about the whole Grammy sham. Unfortunately, some of the youngsters aren't that sophisticated with the legalese.


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7 comments
Andrew Karnavas
Andrew Karnavas

Shout out to Ars Lyrica from Houston who really got nominated for a Best Opera GRAMMY in 2011: http://www.arslyricahouston.or...

Yeah, if you're on the short list like Ars Lyrica, then you're nominated for a GRAMMY. The article is right, keep it real.

Just to be clear on what Sigher mentioned in the comments, indie artists like me can submit their records/songs for GRAMMY consideration only by being a member of the Recording Academy, which requires a review process and an annual membership fee. It's not that you can pay your way onto the ballot, your music still gets reviewed by a panel before making the long list. If you have enough recording credits, you become a voting member, and that allows you to cast your vote for who wins the GRAMMYs (pretty cool).  Because there are so many indie artists who are voting members now, when those artists didn't make the final cut (the real nomination), they still got to vote, and they voted for Arcade Fire, and that's how they won at the GRAMMYs. We're starting to see the digital change in the industry impact who wins/gets nominated at the awards in a good way.

There is a social network for GRAMMY members called GRAMMY365 that unfortunately is currently being abused (some big name artists have hired people to figure out a way to spam message all the voting members to ask for votes). This did work for some artists, but I never got spammed by Arcade Fire or their representation, so the system isn't totally ravaged. Yet.

 

     

        

Sigher
Sigher

ZenHill and SugarHill are paying/voting members of the Recording Academy so they can submit their own bands. This is not an honor, it is artistic posturing, plain and simple. Does anyone really think these albums are Grammy worthy? Ridiculous.

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

Good article and helpful.

Suppose we have about the same number of popular musicians in the U.S.A. making a good living performing their music as we have Division # 1 football players?

Grammy Nomination Fantasies are beginning to sound suspiciously like Heisman Nomination Fantasies.

JLY
JLY

The Grammys have become a sick joke. Personally, I'd rather win a Woody.

Wcfc71
Wcfc71

Have you even listened to Sideshow Tramps Revelator? Here is a free download of just one song:http://noisetrade.com/sideshow...But until you sit down and listen to the full album I would recommend you do not announce your uninformed opinion. WMS - I agree with this article completely.

wms
wms

Gary: I'm not sure I'm getting everything between the lines here, but I'm thinking I've got most of it. Funny...

wms
wms

my favorite houston record of the year. but it still is unlikely to win a Grammy.

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