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Award ceremony as an arbiter of commerce and canon in the popular music industry


We show how the Grammy award ceremony played a central role in influencing the US popular music industry through two important inter-organisational processes. The ceremony served as the vehicle through which the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) interlinked with commercial interests in the field: the distributors, wholesalers and retailers who are represented by the National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM). As music became a more visual medium and television coverage of the ceremony became prominent, merchandisers came to rely on the Grammy awards as their sales cue, and began to aggressively promote nominees and winners. As a result of the retailers' selective attention, Grammy award-winners began enjoying greater popular appeal through increased album sales. Second, attempts made by various constituents of NARAS to influence award decisions resulted in the surfacing of, challenges to and, finally, the resolution of occupational conflicts and normative concerns about the legitimacy of genres in the popular music industry. In the process, NARAS succeeded in championing the Grammy awards as the hallmark of peer recognition. We contend that the unique ability of the Grammy awards to mingle both peer and popular recognition makes them a significant arbiter of canon formation in the popular music industry.

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Popular Music
  • ISSN: 0261-1430
  • EISSN: 1474-0095
  • URL: /core/journals/popular-music
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