Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum, Lady Arcade Fire win at Grammys; Baltimore bands react: meh
By Erik Maza
Feb 14, 2011 | 9:02 AM
At the Grammys Sunday night, Maryland was largely ignored. Songwriter Makeba Riddick, who went in with excellent odds for producing Eminem's "Recovery," lost to Arcade Fire in the night's major upset, album of the year.
And Lady Antebellum beat her in the record of the year category.
Baltimore's critically-loved indie bands had already been snubbed by the time the nominations were announced last month. And that suits them just fine.
"As far as I can tell, the people who nominate artists for Grammys are not the hippest people, and they probably aren't obsessive indie rock fans," said Todd Hyman, of DC's Carpark Records, which represents Dan Deacon and Lexie Mountain Boys. "I'm guessing that they haven't even heard of most bands from Baltimore."
It's not that locals might be producing music too esoteric for the Recording Academy's populist taste - this year, half the nominees were indies, according to industry group A2IM. It's that local bands and their labels aren't pursuing them. In fact, some of their labels didn't even submit them for consideration.
At a time of flat-lining record sales, they say that the role the Grammys used to play - to goose up sales and raise young bands' profiles - has now been taken up by a number of other venues. Touring, for instance, is far more lucrative. And they can count on social media for exposure.
Below, some of them comment on the awards in more length than I had space for in the print story. (Plus video from the show)
This year, Beach House, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, and Future Islands, could have been in contention for awards.
But where in the past their labels might have pursued nominations to boost the bands' profile, they didn't; the awards' dividends just aren't what they used to.
Where in 2000, the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" sold some 200,000 extra copies the week after it copped a win, Carrie Underwood's win for "Play On" last year brought her a bump of only 30,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Walston mentioned they usual platitudes about how what they do is really about the music, but he also pointed out that in terms of getting their name out there, they just tour religiously.
"In there past, there were three or five major venues to get music to people: magazines, radio, MTV, the whole industry complex," he said. "Now, there's infinite sources for people to get their music."
"People don't buy records anymore. I can point out five websites that have the week's best selling albums for free. Our thing is still going out and playing shows, and relying at sales at shows. That's been our basic attempt [at making a living] at this point."
Others had similar reactions.
Thrill Jockey, which had a possible candidate with Future Islands' "In Evening Air," didn't submit the album for consideration, spokesman David Halstead said. "It's an award for best marketing," he said. "It's not something we take seriously."
At Merge, which scored an unlikely win Sunday night with Arcade Fire, label manager Spott Philpott said they submit about a dozen albums for consideration every year. But they don't do any extra campaigning the way it's expected at the majors.
"It's a complete surprise when we're nominated," he said.
SubPop nominated Beach House's "Teen Dream" for consideration, but it was mostly a pro forma move, general manager Chris Jacobs said.
In 2009, when Dan Deacon's "Bromst" was in contention, Carpark also didn't submit it for consideration, Hyman said.
He said, "I don't see the stuff we do as relating at all to anything the Recording Academy does."
Beach House itself didn't mince words in regards to the awards. During the show, they tweeted: "Grammys showing just how bad pop has become. Sooooooo pathetic."