First, let's get the technical stuff out of the way -- here is the list of the nominees for Best Children's Album, with the winner to be announced Feb. 12: All About Bullies... Big And Small - Various Artists (James Cravero, Gloria Domina, Kevin Mackie, Steve Pullara & Patrick Robinson, producers) Are We There Yet? - The Papa Hugs Band Fitness Rock & Roll - Miss Amy GulfAlive - The Banana Plant I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow - Various Artists (Eric Brace & Peter Cooper, producers) OK, now that I have that out of the way. WHAT???!? Now, let it first be said that I totally expected the GRAMMYs' decision to combine 2 children's categories into one to spell a death knell for independent artists. I was obviously completely wrong, seeing as all five nominees are independently produced. So make of that what you will regarding my understanding of the GRAMMY process.
The Recording Academy, otherwise known as the folks who put on the annual music recording industry confab called the Grammys, announced today that after a year-long review review they were restructuring the Grammy categories for the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012. Reducing from 109 to 78 categories, the Academy reduced the 2 categories in the Children's Field to one, eliminating the separate awards for Musical Recording and Spoken Word. On the one hand, this can clearly be seen as a shot at the Children's Spoken Word recordings -- some other changes in the voting process indicated that low numbers of relevant album submissions were clearly a concern, as categories with fewer than 40 entries will now have just 3 nominees, and entries with fewer than 25 will be suspended. The Spoken Word category has, for the past few years, hung around in that 25-40 range, while the Musical Recording field always has well more than 100, often approaching 200, entries. Oddly enough, however, it's that small number of recordings that may just give the spoken word recordings a disproportionate share of the nominees in the new, combined category. Fewer nominees, easier to vote for. And that's not even getting into the discussion once the nominees are announced, when the "famous name" aspect of the spoken word category may make it even harder for great, "non-famous" musical artists to break through. I could be wrong. I hope I am. But I think the likelihood of independent family musicians getting nominated for 2012 just went down fairly substantially.
Maybe the weather was particularly bad throughout much of the country Saturday, because what started as a humorous Facebook comment from Out With the Kids' Jeff Bogle turned into a full-on thrashing of music award sites, both by Jeff and others in the family music business. [Note: I've edited this post with some additional comments, noted in italics.] Now, the weather in Phoenix was lovely on Saturday, and we were tired from hosting a large party the night before, so we spent a lot of time being lazy or being outside. Not, in other words, in front of computer. But I thought I'd add my two cents' worth to the debate. The first thought I had was, "this isn't new." If you read through the Facebook comments, you'll see more than one person reference always-good-for-a-money-quote Kathy O'Connell, who at the 2009 edition of Kindiefest called programs that give awards out to good CDs, "sticker scams," based on the fact that winning CDs receive (or get to buy) rolls of stickers that the artists can put on their CDs. But unease in the kindie world predates Kathy's two-word distillation. Nearly three years ago, I discussed these types of awards, programs such as the Parents' Choice Awards, who currently charge $250 for an audio entry (not to mention fees for use of the seal and their stickers). I didn't take a strong view one way or another other than to say such awards are useless to folks like myself who've heard just about everything they'd be considering. My purpose in publishing the post was more to solicit opinions from musicians and others on the value of such awards. People willing to respond had a more negative view of the process, but that could be just as much due to people's tendency to complain rather than to comment, "yeah, it seems fine to me." I would also note that even I wasn't the first -- Amy Davis tackled the issue way more than four years ago.
Sure, I talk about the Grammy Awards (a lot), but let's not forget our neighbors to the north. That's right, the nominees for the 2010 Juno Awards have been announced, and I feel compelled to give props to the Juno Children's Album nominees... Action Packed - Bobs & Lolo I'm Me! - Charlie Hope Love My New Shirt - Norman Foote We Share the Earth - The Bee's Knees Walk On - The Kerplunks I've heard the Bobs & Lolo and Kerplunks disks, and they're not bad, but my favorite here is Charlie Hope's I'm Me!. Having said all that, even though the Kerplunks were nominated in this category just last year, I expect the Juno to go to veterans Foote or The Bee's Knees. The Juno Awards will be announced April 18, 2010.
A few weeks after the Grammys, Canada's equivalent, the Juno Awards were announced this past weekend in Vancouver. Among the winners were Barenaked Ladies, who won Best Children's Album for Snacktime!. What's notable, I suppose, for the awards on the kids' side is that with the exception of BNL (whose album really was one of the year's best) all the nominees were definitely independent kids' artists. What some folks have been trying to do with the Grammys, the Junos have already accomplished. Of course, I'm surprised Nickelback didn't win that category, too.
No sooner do I stop talking about the 51st Annual Grammys than I start talking about the 52nd Annual Grammys. The Recording Academy announced yesterday that next year's awards will air on January 31st, 2010. Which means that the award window will be just 11 months long, from Oct. 1, 2008 through Aug. 31, 2009. We're halfway through the award window right now! Oh. My. Goodness. Anyway, what that means for the rest of the awards process is as follows: