Friday, March 2, 2012

Respectable Oscars vs. Trashy Grammys

The 2012 Oscars aired this past Sunday and watching the show was a lovely experience.  It makes you want to sit back, relax and order a pizza to go with a nice glass of wine.  It's three hours of seemingly honest appreciation and recognition in the world of film.  This year's Oscars resonated with energy, soul, and passion.  We haven't seen any of the movies nominated, but that didn't really alter the effectiveness of the show.  There was a segment where several random actors/actresses briefly discussed why it is they are so deeply in love with acting and another segment where they discussed in detail what movies truly mean to them; several of the of the award speeches were incredibly inspiring and heartfelt.  It's refreshing and liberating to witness people in the movie industry speak highly of one another, and demonstrating gratitude for the awards they receive as a result of the blood, sweat, and tears they put into their passions.  All in all, from the beginning of the ceremony to the closing credits, it was a hugely intriguing end entertaining three hours that you didn't want to see come to an end.

Now...let's discuss...the Grammys for a bit...possibly a long bit...sorry to kill the positive vibes but we're artists/musicians here, and honestly, the Grammys, which aired a few weeks back, just stink.  They're a pile of dog poop sitting on a sidewalk on a hot summer day.  It's very difficult to admire the Grammys and the funny thing is that the show is set up in a very similar fashion as the Oscars.  There are similar types of speeches, acknowledgements, and awards, all given to professionals in the music industry who apparently deserve all this praise.  Here's the big difference between the Oscars and the Grammys.  The Oscars FEEL carefully thought out and sincere (hopefully they actually are).  The Grammys FEEL confused and plastic-like; there doesn't seem to be much integrity that goes into choosing the best acts of the year.  See, the music industry has been crumbling apart ever since underground artists/bands discovered avenues of promoting themselves online.  Whereas in the past, musicians at the top of the food chain (a.k.a. megastars such as Lady Gaga, Green Day, Foo Fighters, etc...) had all the power over the independent world of music, today, the playing field is the same for everyone; if you make smart decisions and work hard as an indie artist, you can definitely make a living in the music industry today.  Many of these bands/artists whom you have never even heard of are turning their art into full time careers, by carving out their own little niches, finding die hard fans, and living their music dreams.  Because there are SO many artists out there who are successfully doing this, the music industry is in a serious state of confusion - major label acts are no longer selling nearly as much product as they were 10 years ago because now they're competing with the world of independent musicians; indie music has skyrocketed to become a HUGE part of the music market.  Because the world of music has changed dramatically, die hard music fans now have access to a wider variety of music than they ever did before; the internet has opened up so many doors for artists and people are no longer forced to listen to what the mainstream industry throws at us - music fans can now pick and choose; it's sort of like being at a candy store.

So what does this have to do with the Grammys being trashy?  Well, it seems the Grammys only acknowledge what's hot on the Billboard charts, while ignoring the ENORMOUS amount of independent music being created and released.  Many of these bands are ones you've seen perform at your favorite music festivals; you purchase tickets to their concerts months in advance; you buy their merchandise and music as soon as it's available; you adore them and thousands of other people do too - this seems to be where the Grammys are confused.  They KNOW you're a die hard music fan out there and that an enormous amount of independent bands are making very noticeable dents in the music industry; but it's not noticeable enough to the mainstream viewing public, so would nominating any of them on the Grammys look attractive to its audience?  The Grammys need to be on top of what's hip.  These bands DO make very good livings as professional artists, but they aren't on the top 40 Billboard charts selling as many records as Adele, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Nickelback, and many others.  It's not that any of these artists mentioned are bad.  These musicians certainly work very hard on their craft, just as independent musicians do.  This is NOT why the Grammys stink.  The Grammys stink because everything about them seems to be a popularity contest which concerns only those listed in the top of the charts.  That's understandable, and the Grammys tried to trick us into thinking they knew what was cool in 2011 by awarding Arcade Fire with the best album of the year.  But really, that was a desperate attempt for them to show they knew something about art when they clearly don't.  Bottom line is this: the music industry has fallen apart - the Grammys don't know left from right or up from down, so they choose to nominate what's hot and popular to the mainstream public even though they're very well aware the music industry is in such a huge state of change, and the independents are slowly but surely taking over.

Maybe the film industry is as bad as the music industry, but it just doesn't seem to be as blatantly obvious.  It seems to truly embrace the beauty of film and what it stands for.  The Oscars seem to want to acknowledge the people out there trying to do something different with their passions and those people who are trying to make a difference in the world to make it a better place.  That's why art SHOULD be acknowledged, but right now the music industry is having an identity crisis and the Grammys don't seem to understand that.

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