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Veteran marketing and music executive Steve Stoute lashed out at the Grammys and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Sunday in a full-page newspaper advertisement, admonishing the organization for losing touch with contemporary pop culture and failing to acknowledge the talents of hugely successful artists like Justin Bieber and Eminem.
Stoute’s ad, which appeared in the New York Times, also criticizes the “over-zealousness to produce a popular show that is at odds with its own system of voting,” and how artists like Eminem and Bieber — who were snubbed for Album of the Year and Best New Artist, respectively — are still called upon to goose ratings for the show. Both artists performed at the 53rd annual awards fête on Feb. 13, which attracted 26.7 million viewers – – the show’s largest audience since 2001.
To further his argument about how NARAS is out of touch, Stoute — who is best known for once managing the rapper Nas — also took issue with how Kanye West’s Graduation was beaten out for Album Of The Year by Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters during the 50th Annual Grammys, and how Steely Dan triumphed over Enimem in 2001. “While there is no doubt in my mind of the artistic talents of Steely Dan and Herbie Hancock, we must acknowledge the massive cultural impact of Eminem and Kanye West and how their music is shaping, influencing and defining the voice of a generation,” wrote Stoute, who as the CEO of the marketing company Translation, works with recording artists to find advertising opportunities in the corporate world. (For more about Stoute, check out this profile in Time from last year).
An executive close to the telecast who talked to EW exclusively agreed with some of Stoute’s criticisms about egregious snubs over the years but said it was unfair to criticize the actual show, which operates independently of the voting process. Veteran producer Ken Erlich, along with CBS, oversee the event with constant input from NARAS. “The TV group is tasked to produce a Grammy-branded event for TV,” the executive said. “The voting procedure is done by the NARAS membership which has nothing to do with who produces the TV show.”
The producers are not privy to who will win the night of the Grammys, and are often caught off guard by the outcome. The executive said a member of Arcade Fire, which won Album of the Year and performed immediately after receiving the Grammy, said during rehearsal earlier that weekend that he expected Eminem to win.
Here’s the full letter from Stoute.