heyAt one time, the Brit Awards and Grammys had been an annual staple within the TV calendar of essentially the most informal music fan. Attracting thousands and thousands of spectators, the celebrations provide a feast of leisure starting from the surprising to the spectacular. Suppose dodging a bucket of ice water over John Prescott on the Brits in 1998 or Woman Gaga on the Grammys in 2011. Extra not too long ago, the Brits set by Stormzy and Dave has marked a major shift in mainstream recognition of Black British expertise.

For viewers, nonetheless, the shine appears to have light. Final 12 months the Brits’ ITV broadcast, which was postponed from February to Might because of Covid-19, recorded 2.9 million viewers – a determine that was the fourth 12 months operating. The 2021 Grammys had been the bottom rankings in historical past, delivering an viewers of simply 8.8 million viewers for CBS, down 53% from the 12 months earlier than. (The drop is not only for music award ceremonies: the Oscars additionally posted a 58.3% drop in audiences final 12 months.)

That is not the total image: Each occasions have made efforts to digitize their choices and may boast of excessive engagement on social media. The worldwide viewers for the 2021 Brits’ YouTube dwell stream was 1.7 million, whereas the Grammys noticed greater than 77bn impressions on the social platform in the identical 12 months.

Prize! huh, good god, y’all… what are they good for? {Photograph}: Lisa Sheehan / The Guardian

However past the numbers, there are different challenges as properly. The #BritsSoWhite marketing campaign in 2016 highlighted the shortage of racial variety. That 12 months, out of a complete of 52 entries within the British classes, solely 4 artists/teams of coloration (Naughty Boy, Rudimental, Simple Bizzu and Arrow Benjamin as a featured vocalist) had been nominated, and all winners had been white. Gender has additionally been a difficulty: from 2011 to 2021, feminine acts within the 4 essential classes represented solely 31.5% of nominees, and final 12 months, Little Combine was the primary woman band to win Finest British Group within the Brits’ 41-year historical past. . ,

The Grammys have additionally been accused of racial bias — each Drake and Frank Ocean canceled their 2017 present because of this — and, in 2020, the primary feminine president and CEO of its dad or mum group, the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan, much less Got here out after a short while. Six months on, calling the incident “ripened with corruption”. Just lately, The Weeknd has mentioned that it might flip down the Grammys because of a scarcity of transparency in voting after no nominations had been obtained. Whereas which will sound like bitter grapes, he is not alone: ​​Drake, who withdrew two of his nominations for 2022, requested the ceremony final 12 months for one thing new.

For all of the criticism, each Brittany and the Grammys are no less than displaying a willingness to innovate. With the Recording Academy publishing steps it’s taking to handle the “systemic and ongoing under-representation” of minority teams, the Grammys responded to claims of inequality by establishing a Range and Inclusion Activity Drive. The Brits Voting Academy, in the meantime, is refreshed yearly and in 2020, the male/feminine break up of voters stood at 51%/49%, with BAME representing 24.5%. This 12 months, the gender classes of Brits have been scrapped to make room for non-binary artists (Sam Smith mentioned they weren’t eligible to affix in 2021).

Nonetheless, these makes an attempt at refresh have introduced their very own issues. Fewer girls are prone to being celebrated due to the shortage of a particular class for feminine expertise. We all know the identical factor occurs on different platforms: on UK radio, feminine acts accounted for a modest 20% of airplay within the first six months of 2021, in accordance with knowledge from Why Not Her? the collective.

Why not her? Linda Coogan Byrne, the founding father of Who submits the work? It is primarily report labels. And if solely 20% of these signing them are female-identifying artists, what number of girls are going to win?”

Maybe the largest problem going through each units of awards is sustaining relevance. It is arduous to get the eye of as we speak’s youth after they can spend time on no matter they need — whether or not it is a video of Lil Nas X getting right down to hell or a cat laughing video — simply by selecting up their telephones. And, crucially, that era grew up on streaming, the place the main focus is extra on songs.

The flick of the 'new'... Little Sims performs at O2 Academy Brixton in December 2021.
The flick of the ‘new’… Little Sims performs at O2 Academy Brixton in December 2021. {Photograph}: Jim Dyson / Getty

Awards exhibits have struggled to determine their head on this new digital world. Subscription streaming, whereas accounting for 79% of shopper spending on music in 2021, does not actually pay properly until an artist is within the uncommon tier of megastars. This implies utilizing gross sales as a barometer of success – because the Brits, the place entries qualify provided that they attain the highest 40, are usually not significantly consultant of as we speak’s world musicians. Works which have an enchanting lifetime of journey, or which can be in style in myriad different methods, are usually sidelined. It is shocking that Little Sims is the Brits Finest New Artist nominee this 12 months as she made her first High 40 album, although it is her fourth total, and she or he’s been profitable independently for a number of years.

Nonetheless, along with the modifications already made at each festivals, and positively will probably be sooner or later, the thought of ​​them being changed by “one thing new” is unlikely, on condition that this system is being utilized by the music trade. are held and owned. “They’re an commercial for what the respective industries have managed to create over the previous 12 months. Plus, successful an award and getting up on stage on the ceremony exhibits that you just’re wonderful and it is such an amazing expertise for the solid,” says Ted Cockle, president of writer Hypnosis Songs, who sits on the Brits committee.

Extra possible, each occasions are generally reduce into brief clips, whereas TV viewership continues to say no till the format turns into out of date. The magic of these surprising moments that occurred in much less polished occasions might be misplaced, however, hey, there are no less than an limitless variety of humorous animal movies to observe.

The Brit Awards air on Tuesday 8 February8 p.m., ITV.



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