Whether it be the credit they give artists, the most infamous snubs, or the biggest controversies, awards can make or break an artist’s career. Award shows such as the Grammy’s are often very divisive but critics often regard them as the industry’s most prestigious prize. Either way, this article is about the awards and why they matter!
This article is mainly going to explore mainstream awards for popular music. However, similar concepts are relevant when awarding anyone anything,, whether in other types of music, film, or even sport.
Why do we have awards?
Although often divisive, award shows form an important part of the music industry. There is no definitive answer to the question posed; to some, they are metrics to measure ability or success, but to others, they are unnecessary and place an unfair judgment system on musicians.
Either way, they shine a light on the music industry and generate hype for both those who work in the industry and those who avidly watch on.
For example, the Grammys are a much-needed spectacle and showcase of what has happened in the music industry that year. Regardless of the occasionally controversial nominations, they have long been a symbol of musical achievement. Some even regard them as the ultimate prize. They are longed for and sought after, and even being nominated for one can affirm an artist’s reputation.
The 2024 Grammy Nominations were announced on the 10th of November, and a host of first-time nominees came with that. Among these include R&B singer Coco Jones who received five nominations, including Best New Artist and Ryan Gosling, his performance of ‘I’m Just Ken’ from the motion picture ‘Barbie’. The latter proved a fan favorite from the film and found its place on social media.
As with any awards show, the Grammys do not come without their own controversies. The most famous in recent years is perhaps in 2020 when The Weeknd received no nominations for his album ‘After Hours’, which included his smash single ‘Blinding Lights,’ the biggest song of 2019. Since then, Tesfaye has boycotted all future Grammys, regarding them as corrupt and not reflective of the industry.
This could indicate a larger problem regarding the relationship between artists, the Grammys, and award shows. Obviously, they must appeal to their target audience, but it is arguably more important to appeal to the artists they are awarding. Otherwise, big names such as Drake or The Weeknd do not perform or submit their names for entry, as with the Grammys.
While the Grammys may be the awards that often dominate the industry, they are not the only music award shows that exist. In the UK, the Brit Awards celebrate some of the best music released by British artists. However, a few less mainstream awards celebrate artistry and have huge respect from artists and fans and artists alike.
For example, The Mercury Prize is awarded annually for the best album of the year as chosen by a panel of specialist judges. Albums are nominated purely on merit and don’t have to have been commercially lucrative, thus rewarding genuine artistry. For instance, this year’s prize winners were the London-based jazz group ‘The Ezra Collective.’ So, while not incredibly mainstream, the exposure and money the award gained them provides a massive career boost.
Award shows such as The Mercury Prize, or the Ivor Novello Awards are genuinely important in rewarding and developing British musical talent. Thus, serving as a reminder of the importance of awards shows.
Finally, award shows are spectacles. They are celebrations of the industry and champions of musical talent. They are ultimately helping to keep the music industry going. Whether that be through giving upcoming artists something to aspire to or providing a chance for the creative industries to showcase what they do best, be it lighting designers or fashion companies, awards shows genuinely celebrate creative talent.