Op-Ed: The Grammy Waiver – by Bob Lefsetz

Give Neil Portnow credit for convincing the WGA that big time movie and television producers are a similar enemy to thieving consumers.

That’s right. When I see kids on the street, stealing music, I get pissed that they’ve got money for Ferraris, vacations in Bali, but THEY WON’T PAY FOR MUSIC!

Or do we give credit to Patrick Goldstein, who chided the WGA brass for killing the Grammys, the main fund-raising event for NARAS.

I don’t understand those WGA guys. Giving waivers here and there. Who IS the enemy? CBS is laughing all the way to the bank. The WGA just delivered a Sunday night victory to the network!

Really, Neil Portnow almost earned his exorbitant salary here. Mike Greene couldn’t have pulled this off. He was more about alienating the powers-that-be than making friends. Then again, Mr. Greene did his best to make the Grammys relevant, whereas Mr. Portnow is presiding over a sinking ship.

Music’s greatest night?

Then music must be in shit shape. Because I want no part of this smorgasbord of vapidity.

They say it’s about representing ALL KINDS of music, that it’s a big tent. But then how come only the major label priorities seem to get screen time?

I don’t want to put the blame on NARAS. They’re a zit on the ass of an industry that’s an elephant run amok in Alaska, totally out of its environment. When music is becoming decentralized, when everybody is making it, trading it online, we get Vivendi’s Levy telling us big label business is good and that the CD has nine lives left.

Really, Mr. Levy goes on about MARGINS! What about the ten percent drop?

MIDEM has turned into a circle jerk. Everybody wanting to get paid, the only people left out are those who count, the people actually listening, the customers.

I don’t know that TV exposure delivers cred. And credibility is key to longevity in the twenty first century. If you’re a real musician, don’t throw on a tux or a fancy gown, go down to the juke joint and PLAY! Get the booze flowing, improvise a bit, try to connect with the patrons. Don’t worry so much about selling as DELIVERING!

Who are those Grammy performers playing for? Bud? Or the fat cats in the audience? I don’t think they’re playing for music fans. Because real music fans just aren’t watching. Only the casual buyers, who are so out of it that they go out the next week and purchase albums that have been out for eons, which somehow they’ve never heard of, or haven’t been motivated to buy.

Neil Portnow deserves kudos here. But he’s saved a television show, not the music industry. The people who will save the music industry are not going to watch this show, they’ll be too busy breaking acts that are too outside or too far from double-platinum for the string-pullers looking for this television show to pull them out of their slump.

As for the WGA… Writers deserve a piece of Internet revenues. But the only way they’re going to get it is to make the movie studios and TV networks hurt. By constantly granting waivers, they’re just weakening their position.

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