60th Annual Grammy Awards: The Verdict

Kendrick Lamar kills it at the Grammys (again)

Did you watch? I did and according to past years, some 20+ million people in the US alone did too.

The statistic presents the number of Grammy Awards viewers in the United States from 2000 to 2017.

AudioStream readers weighed in here and on our Facebook page and the majority of responses to "60th Annual Grammy Awards: Do We Care?" was a resounding "No." While 2018's numbers are not in, based on past performance we can expect that 20+ million people in the US alone tuned in.

But what is the impact, if any, on music sales?

Growth of music sales following the Grammy Awards in 2017, by type (from Statista.com)

Growth and unit increase in sales

Album sales: 291%
Song sales: 347%
Song streams: 14%
I think it's safe to say a lot of people watch the Grammys and some are motivated to go out and buy music. From my perspective, that's a good thing, with all of the politics, money, and power aside.

My Verdict? While the show had its ups and downs, or should I say I enjoyed some parts more than others, I was moved a number of times. Here are two of those moments:

What more can you ask for?

whell's picture

First, didn't watch so qualify my comments on that. Saw the ads on TV for the Grammy telecast and my first thought was that there's no one that I really feel strongly about watching to see them perform. So, I read for a while and went to bed at my normal time without going near the TV. ...and "not going near the TV" is getting more and more commonplace for me these days.

As for the two video clips you posted:

- the first one jumped out at me as being something that had NOTHING to do with the awards or music. The young lady did a great job of making an emotional appeal for change. But if I'm being honest, hearing performers make statements about their favorite cause or the issues of the day are not why most people tune in to watch shows like this.

- The second one (and this is where I risk channeling my parents), didn't move me at all. I can see where it had potential, but I'm not familiar with Mr Lamar's work and unfortunately could only understand every third or fourth word he uttered. Don't know if it was the sound engineering or his use of the microphone I don't know, but I got very little out of the performance.

As for how many watched: uh oh. Looks like the overnights aren't flattering.


Michael Lavorgna's picture
Janelle Monáe was speaking about how women are treated in the music industry and seeing as she's a woman in the music industry, it's not "a favorite cause" it's a reality. So it had everything to do with the music business, which is what the awards are about.
whell's picture

We can agree to disagree about this. Harvey Weinstein's conduct - and similar conduct by others - do not define the movie industry nor how all women in that industry are treated. Likewise, one woman's choice to air her views about treatment of women doesn't reflect the treatment of all women in the industry.

People tune into awards shows to be entertained. Entertainment is supposed to be about giving folks a way to escape their day to day grind. I'm not sure that folks tune in to see folks airing grievances about the industry that is supposed to be source of that entertainment.

This is not to demean or diminish her concerns, they may be very real and very personal to her. But was last night's show really the right time and the right venue for her to vent?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Topher's picture

"People tune into awards shows to be entertained. Entertainment is supposed to be about giving folks a way to escape their day to day grind."

While this is a sentiment I agree with, in 2018 it's considered old-fashioned and conservative. The line between politics and entertainment is much more fine than it used to be–just look at the difference between David Letterman and Stephen Colbert. (You can take your pick as to whom to blame for this: CNN or The Daily Show or Fox News or Bill Maher.)

This kind of Total Politics means that there is no neutral position for 'entertainers,' whether in the music business or the film industry. There is a real "if you're not with us, you're against us" climate. If you don't speak up in the way Ms. Monáe did, there is a good chance you will be considered complicit, or at the very least that you don't consider it a problem worth speaking out against.

So where this sort of thing used to be considered 'risky' (Cf. Marlon Brando or Jane Fonda), today all the risk lies in *not* speaking out.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...as being political. Just as human rights are not political.
Topher's picture

In principle I would agree you; in practice, not so much. Ideas about women's rights and human rights are codified into laws in the same way ideas about taxation are.

As the saying goes, it's all politics.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Not ideas.

A woman saying women deserve equal pay for equal work and expect to be treated with respect is in no way political.

whell's picture

...the last line: "today all the risk lies in *not* speaking out."

There's plenty of risk in speaking out, which is why people in the public eye (including but not limited to entertainers) need to be careful when and where they choose do it. The risk is alienating the audience, which may very well explain the sorry ratings of the show this year. Speechifying is not what people tune into awards shows, or any entertainment, to see.

I don't begrudge anyone speaking out about issues or injustice. But there's a time and a place for everything. I think that fact is increasingly lost on folks.

Topher's picture


"[Q]uestions abounded about why men did not speak out onstage about the issue."

Melissa Silverstein:

"How could the producer of 3 Billboards not even mention a thing about what the movie was about on a night focused on bringing awareness to sexual harassment and assault. The male disconnect in that room is my overall take away."

agb's picture

Let me put it this way. Rap is, garbage. I did like the last Eminem album though. It is rare. But would I buy it? For a bunch of ignoramuses who see themselves as foreign policy experts to grandstand and lecture knowledgeable Americans - especially the ones who voted for the guy who won by a landslide against the powers, media, big business, Hollywood, Wall Street, Big Banks, academe, 8 billionaires out of 10 arrayed against him - is the height of hubris, arrogance, vanity and mostly, stupidity.

Politics have no place at award shows and are a drag on the late night comics, each whom will do whatever possible to outdo with rage, anger and bile the other. It is pathetic to watch and only funny to the half of America that lost 90% of voting districts. https://is.gd/EOydXS

As for the future?

I'll remind the Grammy folks of this: https://is.gd/EfRbjQ

That is a view into the future coming 2018 and 2020.

And the kind who believed that believe anything, including today's polls. Meanwhile the president according to even very leftwing polls hit it out of the ballpark at the SOTU message last night.


Imagine the meltdown to come their way.

And consider: this news is coming from this writer who coined in the 80's that "Digital Sucks" that shortly became a slogan. It did. It no longer does.

The narratives of the leftwing media exemplified by CNN and NBC will backfire on them, their talking heads, politicians and their party - and their voters BIGLY! To understand what I'm getting at, consider:


And this from months ago: http://canadafreepress.com/article/felonious-assault

and a little support:

Imagine the faces of the Grammy folks after these play out - soon - at the next award shows will be the same as THE DAY THE DOG DIED: https://is.gd/7vMiJZ

Michael Lavorgna's picture
You've broken so many of our rules for posting all I can say is - I'll let this rant stand but that's a once in a lifetime pass.
foxhall's picture

I'm just really curious as to why viewership was down. Is it the quality and quantity of other content available? Does the awards concept not matter?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Ratings for Grammy Awards Drop 24 Percent from the NY Times.

"But if the Grammys were an outlier in nearly across-the-board declines for awards shows and live sporting events, the law of gravity caught up this year."


"There are also more digital distractions than ever. HQ Trivia, the live streaming smartphone quiz app, said it had 1.6 million players on Sunday night, a record for the game, which went live about an hour and a half into the Grammys telecast."

There are more ideas discussed in the article including how these events have become "increasingly political" which echoes some of the comments here...Worth a read.

BradleyP's picture

As soon as the Grammy nominees are published, I greedily go through the categories for classical, jazz, Americana, blues, etc. -- "better" music -- and engineering and stream all of it to find new music I missed and to make predictions about the ultimate winners. Pop and rap ain't my jam, but that's mostly what the show is...and politics.

Russ_L's picture

Most new music a bunch of crap. And the Grammys, Emmys, Oscar, etc. just more political crap. When are they going to grow up?


PS- today's paper indicates 17 million viewers.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
And I do wonder why you make the statement, "Most new music [is] a bunch of crap" when no one has the time to listen to most new music.

I get that it's common to say this kind of thing, but considering it's meaningless, why not simply say you *think* most new music is crap or you don't like most of the new music you've heard. Because that's what you mean.

And when you put it that way, it doesn't have nearly the same pizzazz ;-)

Russ_L's picture

IMHO most of the new music I've heard is crap. But having to listen to it on the Grammys mixed in with the politics just makes it crapier; so I don't watch.


Michael Lavorgna's picture
Russ_L's picture

Looked at the chart above. Down 9 million viewers from last year (35%).


Doug Adams's picture

Didn't watch the award show. Don't care much for rap & hip hop. Unless it is very creative musically. Most rap deconstructs music too far. There are exceptions. I liked Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise, Blondie - Rapture, and some Eninem.

There's only so much free time. All unheard music competes with music already owned. Would I rather waste 2 hours sifting through new music that normally provides about a 10% "keeper rate" or spend the time listening to 100% enjoyment? I usually maximize enjoyment by picking from the 1000's of albums already in house.

The Kendrick Lamar video is very interesting visually and he is dealing with important issues, but as others have already mentioned the lyrics are difficult to understand. Think it was Barbra Streisand that once questioned what was the point of rock music dealing with important issues if many couldn't understand the lyrics?

Janelle gave an important and impassioned speech. I'm ok with it being included in the show. Especially since it dealt with the industry. Otherwise, if I were producing the show ALL political comments would be deleted. No matter if I were for or against the cause. People are watching to be entertained. Any politics will piss off about half the viewers and that takes away from the real reason for the show. The Grammy Awards are to recognize artists and their art. It shouldn't have to share that with anything else.

Topher's picture

I pretty much agree with your take on the show, but can I make some hip hop record suggestions? It's a really interesting genre, and gets a lot better than Coolio and Eminem. Far from deconstructing, good hip hop producers celebrate the samples they use. (The first four are classics, the fifth is a personal favourite from the UK.)

1. Nas, Illmatic (1994)
2. A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders (1993)
3. The Beastie Boys, Ill Communication (1994)
4. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
5. Jehst, The High Plains Drifter EP (2001)

GlacierJeff's picture

He's shown himself to be consistently unafraid to tackle big issues that often times lie outside of the purview of major label artists, while at the same time being the foremost technical practitioner of his craft. His delivery and breath control are astounding. Maybe don't look to Barbara Streisand when critiquing hip hop.

Doug Adams's picture

It has nothing to do with hip hop. If message is so important, the artist should strive to make it intelligible to a great number of people. Doesn't matter if it is singing, writing, or whatever. If the goal is to educate, it is important for people to understand the message.

GlacierJeff's picture

An artist writes and performs with an audience in mind. Could it be that you are not that audience? I assure you his audience heard his vocals quite clearly. One of the things that's helped me deal with new music as I've aged out of the demographic a lot of young artists are shooting for is to say to myself, "This wasn't written for me." This allows me to free myself from the feeling that I need to critique media I don't really know anything about. Assuming that in order for art to be valid that it must strive to be intelligible to the greatest number of people strikes me as wrongheaded at its core.

deckeda's picture

see also, "Excuse me, while I kiss this guy."

Still a great song, even if the lyrics can be a little "hazy."


deckeda's picture

It's a safe bet that many artists, or at least many songs, frequently have opinions or topics expressed as part of their published work. Historically, some of it has been somewhat subversive, or otherwise couched in a little obliqueness here or there. But to the extent any of it sails over your head, that's really more of your problem to correct, not theirs.

So to enjoy that (or, to "accept" their existence as entertainers) but assert they should not "emphasize" a message (by bringing it up sans the art) is absurd fantasy.

Creatives are inherently the very people most likely to broadcast. You're free to turn away if you disagree with what they say, which is entirely the underlying message so many lack the courage to admit.