The Grammy Awards were on Sunday night, but much of the conversation after the awards has not been about what stars were wearing, or the strange mash-up of performers, rather it has focused on who won, or more importantly who did not win. People who follow music today, seemed to have an overwhelming feeling that the Grammy voters have grown detached from what is actually good music today. Brian Watson wrote a great post on the current state of Grammy voting. He closed his post with this powerful line “If I learned anything last night, it is to never expect praise from the gatekeepers in your industry because the people with voting power don’t understand what the fuck is really good.” Gatekeepers are often out of touch, and uninformed about what is really going on beyond their gates, but I think it is often more sinister. Gatekeepers are entrenched players in a powerful position, and they are the ones who benefit the most by maintaining the status quo.
Until relatively recently, due to the rise of services like Twitter, Tumblr, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo- the gatekeepers had the ability to control not only what was created, but what was able to be discovered by audiences. The hurdles of financing, and distribution have now become surmountable for creators due to crowdfunding, and social media marketing. Artists can connect with their supporters, have them fund a project, and then directly deliver them the finished product. As the gatekeepers to various industries continue to become increasingly irrelevant, it is only natural that they will dig in their heels, and desperately try to resist change. In this rapidly changing landscape, the gatekeepers are quickly becoming less important, and might eventually become obsolete. A Grammy is probably still significant to most musicians, and an important stamp of approval for most casual music fans, but as the award continues to become detached from what is really going on in the music space, the Grammy will gradually lose significance. The music industry, and specifically record companies have illustrated that it is difficult to change the perspective of gatekeepers while they cling to antiquated business models, and rapidly eroding paradigms. The internet is not just allowing creators to break through the gates, but eventually they will be able to destroy them.