One take on the intersection of the Grammy’s and jazz.
In the upper echelons of pop music, success is measured in millions of units sold and, it seems, tons of bling on display. Nominees in the album of the year category have total sales of nearly 15 million copies.
In Holman’s section of the Grammy program, sales totals seem to be short a few zeros — some 15,000 units combined for all five large jazz ensemble finalists, according to a Nielsen SoundScan tally of sales through retail outlets. Not surprisingly, the winning entry, Holland’s album, accounts for 12,000 of those scanned sales. The John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble’s “A Blessing” is at the low end of the SoundScan tally, with 100 copies.
The artists and their labels point out that their actual totals, supplemented by sales at gigs and through websites — and typically not tracked by SoundScan — is closer to 20,000. That’s still just a sliver of the 5.2 million copies Mariah Carey’s “The Emancipation of Mimi” has sold.
I am a member of NARAS, but I didn’t vote this year. The jazz categories were the only ones that I knew any of the music well enough to vote on, and even in those categories there were nominated recordings that I hadn’t heard.
Last year they did a cool thing by making all of the record of the year nominees available for free on iTunes to voting members. That made me comfortable voting in that category, because I had heard all of the records. This year they made more nominated music available, but they did it through yahoo! Music, which is PC only. I am a Mac user, and didn’t go through the extra trouble to get on a different machine to listen to the stuff. I ended up not voting. It seems to me like the percentage of Mac users among NARAS members is probably much higher than the general population.