Music marketing pioneer Steve Stoute has come forward to address his much talked about, critical open letter to the Grammy Awards and motivation behind releasing it publicly.
Stoute said he firmly believed his direct words were necessary to draw attention.
“It needed to be said, because the fans are saying it, but NARAS [National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences] and the industry don’t know this. And I’m not alone. I got an e-mail from [manager] Gary Gersh who said, ‘I could not agree more with your letter in the Times. I’ve been fighting with NARAS for 25 years. It started with me sitting in between Elvis Costello and the Cars, who were each up for Best New Artist off their first record. That year, A Taste of Honey won for their career-defining single, ‘Boogie Oogie Ooogie.”” (The Hollywood Reporter)
The music marketing genius also cited how out-of-place the Grammys organization is.
“You wanna know how out of touch they are? The photo they used for Jay-Z‘s Record of the Year nomination, it’s 15 years old. That picture is from Reasonable Doubt, his first album in 1996 when Jay-Z looks 12!,” Stoute added. “The ad was expensive, but the price pales in comparison to the torture that artists are going through. It wasn’t about spending that kind of money. It’s, how could you not make that statement…If I wrote that in a blog, would it be taken seriously? The New York Times Styles section was the right place because when you see it, you have to pay attention to it. It can’t go unnoticed. It’s very loud when you put it in that forum. Now, it’s become this open discussion online. I didn’t want it to be music industry-specific. I think it’s a larger topic, this generational divide.” (The Hollywood Reporter)
Although focusing a portion on hip-hop, Stoute’s letter took aim at the Grammys’ faults with other music genres.
“Just so that I’m not showing partiality to hip-hop artists (although it would be an entirely different letter as to how hip-hop music has been totally diminished as an art form by this organization), how is it that Justin Bieber, an artist that defines what it means to be a modern artist, did not win Best New Artist? Again, his cultural impact and success are even more quantifiable if you factor in his YouTube and Vevo viewership — the fact that he was a talent born entirely of the digital age whose story was crafted in the most humble method of being “discovered” purely for his singing ability (and it should be noted that Justin Bieber plays piano and guitar, as evidenced on his early viral videos).” (New York Times)
Stoute even blasted them for unfairly choosing high profile mainstream artists to fuel viewership.
“So while these very artists that the public acknowledges as being worthy of their money and fandom are snubbed year after year at the Grammys, the awards show has absolutely no qualms in inviting these same artists to perform. At first I thought that you were not paying attention to the fact that the mental complexion of the world is becoming tanned, that multiculturalism and poly-ethnicity are driving new meaning as to what is culturally relevant. Interesting that the Grammys understands cultural relevance when it comes to using Eminem’s, Kanye West’s or Justin Bieber’s name in the billing to ensure viewership and to deliver the all-too-important ratings for its advertisers.” (New York Times)
Check out some past Steve Stoute footage below: