Grammys Honor the Art – Not the Commerce – of Music -

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Entertainment marketing expert Brent Smith, Ph.D., says that, despite the shift toward more popular music genres, the Grammy Awards should still be taken seriously by viewers as an event where artists are recognized for the quality of their work.

“To some degree, every brand must stay relevant with mainstream audiences,” says Smith. “Yet, the Grammys still represent the most respected awards show in the music industry because the nominees and winners are elected by their peers.”

Smith notes that some awards shows such as the American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards determine winners by greatest gains in record sales or radio airplay - metrics that predominantly favor pop, rock, R&B, and hip-hop. The Grammys offer a chance for less popular artists to be recognized as well.

Smith distinguishes between the “art” and “commerce” of music. He notes the example of Herbie Hancock, a jazz pianist who won Album of the Year in 2008, beating out pop sensation Amy Winehouse.

“Few pop music fans are familiar with Hancock,” said Smith. “Yet, many of these fans' favorite performing artists – Hancock's peers – actually know and respect his contributions to the art (not commerce) of music.”

Smith says that while the Grammys acknowledge the pop music of the moment, they also consistently recognize lesser known musicians of a high quality.

“At a time when music is dominated by consumers more interested in downloads, ringtones, and ‘danceability,’ the Grammys afford music's core community of creators an opportunity to preserve and project their voice.”

If those consumers tune into the 52nd Grammy Awards Sunday, Jan. 31, someone they’ve never heard of might just win Album of the Year.

Smith is an assistant professor of marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He specializes in music marketing, international marketing, marketing ethics, and cross-cultural marketing. 

Media Contact

 Smith can be reached by email at or by phone at 610-660-3232

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