Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the WRITERS of the Oscar-winning song, “Let It Go” accepting their awards.
I really enjoyed watching the Oscars on Sunday night. In fact, I usually enjoy watching the Academy Awards more than I like watching the Grammys, which may seem odd since I’m a musician and not a filmmaker or actress. But my preference for the Oscars comes from more than just the pretty dresses, or lack of twerking. My overall impression of the Academy Awards is that it truly exists to celebrate the art of filmmaking from start to finish. The Oscars make a point to highlight each and every step it took to bring the film to its final manifestation, and to give recognition to all the artists and creative spirits who participated along the way. The screenwriter, director, sound mixer, sound engineer, costumer, make-up sand hair stylists and so many other critical contributors are given the opportunity to be publicly honored and celebrated for all the work they did behind the scenes. By the time the awards ceremony gets to its pinnacle prize for best picture, the audience and viewers have a greater appreciation for just how much work went into the production of each movie and the level of expertise required.
The Grammy’s take a very different approach. Now, there is certainly no shortage of Grammy categories. However, all the nominations and awards go to the artist. Whether it is best album, record, song of the year, country performance, R&B Solo performance or any one among the plethora of Grammy awards, the artist is the one who goes on stage to collect the award and all the glory and recognition that accompanies it. With the exception of those who are steeped in the industry and know what producers or writers or engineers worked on certain songs, the only person the general public associates with any album or song is the artist.
This is disconcerting not only because it means that those who poured their time and talents into any musical project (often just as much as the artist did) do not get the public recognition and honor they deserve, but because I feel it contributes to an attitude that is plaguing the music industry.
People don’t buy music. We hear and read about it all the time. Record companies are scrambling to find alternative way to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars they spend making an album, because the record sales alone may not cover the expense. Now, there are a multitude of reasons why consumers feel entitled to be able to access their favorite songs for free (or nearly free). Certainly, technology file sharing, and all things like that are a factor. But Many people, even those who are avid music fans, have no idea how a single song is recorded. I’ve had to explain to my own family how involved and labor intensive it was to record even my 4-song EP! Many people who are music consumers do not have an appropriate appreciation for how many people it actually takes to make a record worth listening to. And the awards show, that is supposedly intended to celebrate the art of making music and all that goes into process, is not helping to cultivate said appreciation. No wonder it’s so easy on someone’s conscience to torrent a song for free when they feel like the only person missing out on the sale is a celebrity artist who is getting plenty of moolah from his or her H&M ad campaign.
I don’t expect the Grammy’s to change because of my one blog post. However, watching the Oscars got me thinking that maybe we, the music makers, need to be the first to showcase all that goes into the recording and releasing of our beloved songs, and to honor those that have worked tirelessly by our side in the name of creating beautiful, musical art.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the Oscars, or Grammy’s or your theories on why music consumers don’t always purchase their songs or albums. I would also love to hear ideas about how we can best celebrate the talented people who work behind the scenes of any record production!