TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Steve Chiotakis: Well, the Grammy Awards are this weekend on CBS. Really, they need the plug. Ratings have tanked in the past few years. But this year’s line-up could help reinvigorate a program that in the past, has been, shall we say, a bit lackluster.
We’re joined by Bill Werde of Billboard Magazine. Bill, this event here in LA this weekend is turning out to be a who’s who of top-name acts. Who are we talking about?
Bill Werde: I want you to just look at something here: This is the list of the performers for the Grammys in 2008, and this is the list of the performers for the Grammys in 2009. It’s literally like looking at a minor league all-star line-up, and then looking at a major league all-star line-up. When you see the shift that has gone on here and the amount of talent that they have added to perform and sort of bring this excitement and credibility to the Grammys this year . . . because they get a lot of flack, right? The ratings are down, the, you know, the excitement isn’t there, do people care about the Grammys. But I just have to tip my cap, because they clearly have done everything you can possibly do to make this show relevant and exciting.
Chiotakis: And if it fails?
Werde: You know if it fails, I don’t know what succeeds.
Chiotakis: Who’s succeeding these days?
Werde: Well, I think if you look down the list of this year’s Grammy nominees, if you look down especially the year, of this year’s performers, these are all people that have phenomenal years. I mean, Lil Wayne came out, he’s the Elvis of 2009. I mean, this guy is just a huge rock star who seems to have the Midas touch with anything he does. There’ve been some interesting, sort of creative business models coming out of, you know, Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails, where they’re going direct to fans with their music and by most accounts having a good amount of success with that, certainly making great music. Adele, you know, a U.K. singer, had a great breakout year. There’s amazing music, there’s great music. I would challenge you to be a lover of music and listen to all the great new things that are coming out every day and say the reason music isn’t selling is because of the art.
Chiotakis: So we have all these success stories, how’s the recession showing itself in the music industry?
Werde: A few of the things that we’re seeing include, you know, a softening of the touring market. Certainly when it comes to branded entertainment, budgets are being cut, right. So in the last few years with album sales in decline, one of the ways music has been making a lot of money is by getting huge brands — Pepsi, American Express — you know, giant consumer brands to come in and subsidize tours or use music in giant ad campaigns. And you know, you’re seeing those budgets shrink a little bit too, so you’re definitely feeling the tightening there. You know, it’s tough, because with music sales in free fall, these were the things that were really sort of the bright spots. And now you’re starting to see a little bit of weakness in those fronts, too.
Chiotakis: Bill Werde from Billboard Magazine. Thanks for being with us.
Werde: Hey, it was a pleasure.
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