Indie Music

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is – Steve Stoute Spent $40,000 to Bash Grammys in NYT Ad Buy

image from As you read, music exec Steve Stoute took out a full-page ad in the New York Times last Sunday. But what did it cost and why did he do it? According to an estimate made by Hollywood Reporter, it may have cost Stoute upwards of $40,000 to bash the Grammys. And his thoughts? Worth it. Stoute thinks it’s unfair that the Grammys used Justin Bieber and Eminem to sell the show and garner higher ratings, yet praised Arcade Fire and Esperanza Spalding instead. He laments, “you can't ask people to perform and use those same performers to promo the show in order to get the ratings. That's where it becomes unfair.”

In other words, Stoute believes that the Grammys baited and switched both audiences and artists. They used brands like Bieber and Eminem to convince people to watch the Grammys – had both perform – but gave “Best New Artist and “Album of the Year” to Arcade Fire and Spalding, who most viewers had never even heard of. “Also, it's not like the Grammys pay for these performances,” Stoute told Hollywood Reporter. “Those budgets come out of the managers' pockets and the label's.” It’s an interesting argument, but this isn't new.

Rolling Stone uses pictures of Katy Perry to sell magazines. Studios use star actors to drag viewers into theaters even if they play a minor role. But are the Grammys wrong for building the momentum of their show on the backs of Bieber and Eminem? If the Grammys used Arcade Fire and Spalding it would’ve been a mess, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as deserving of recognition.

Did Spalding cut through and become a global brand like Beiber did?

No. But is that the metric of success that the Grammys should use? No. Who wants to watch an award show where Beiber and Eminem always win at the end?

Stoute seems to think Bieber is entitled to win and that’s sad.

Both Arcade Fire and Spalding have far more to gain from winning than Beiber and Eminem, and the stats prove it. There may have been backlash, but many, many viewers were probably presently surprised to discover new music. People love underdogs just as much as the stars and it’s important not to forget that.

Besides, it’s not like this is the first time the Grammys gave an award to an outlier and let’s hope that it’s not going to be the last. Winners shouldn't take all.

At least not all the time.

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  1. I dissected Stoute’s full page tantrum in a note on my FB profile ( and I’m going to link this update back to it as well.
    The conclusion of my FB note states the following:
    “Why is Stoute crying about the Grammys? Why can’t he craft a statement that doesn’t sound like a whiny high schooler who lost the student election? Is he really this ignorant? My guess is that he’s not stupid, but he thinks YOU ARE.”
    If Stoute did fork over $40k for this (and we never really know who gets breaks or who writes the checks – it is the entertainment biz) it demonstrates that the Old Guard can still waste money on bad judgement. A lot of money…
    I’ll pose another theory, call me a conspiracy nut, but I’ll guess Stoute calculates he can land more business by whining the case for bruised superstar egos. In that case $40k might be just a drop in the bucket considering the percentage he keeps from a potential Bieber or Eminem deal.

  2. WHEW! talk about sense of entitlement!Come Stoute, Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry.. never won Grammy’s. Justin “Baby Baby” Bieber YIKES?
    I guess all the CASH the Majors spent pumping Bieber and Eminem didn’t pay off. Maybe it’s not a “Who made the most cash, paid off the most radio stations,bought the most MySpace banner adds, jiggered the most MySpace profile/plays ” award. Maybe the NARAS members got it right and it really was about the music. The Arcade Fire win certainly generated a lot of excitement at my house and offered great inspiration to my daughters Indie band.

  3. Norah Jones was an underdog until her big grammy sweep a few years ago. The Grammy’s have been a shit show for over a decade but they might have just won back some of their lost respectability with the awards going to Arcade Fire and Esperanza Spalding.

  4. What’s hilarious is that the Arcade Fire were on just as many posters as Eminem, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga that I saw throughout NYC (didn’t see any of Beiber). So the awards had musicians perform or make appearances that didn’t win awards, so does every other awards show filmed for television! If this guy has $40,000 kicking around to just spend inflating his ego, well that’s just a perfect sign that the big labels are full of it and not fair to their artists OR fans!
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  5. great piece – I wrote my own about Stoute’s email as well. of course Steely Dan and Herbie Hancock’s wins, in retrospect, don’t make sense. but I agree with you – Bieber flat out doesn’t deserve to win an award because he is the biggest… or even because they are selling the broadcast on his involvement

  6. Steve Stoute has his head up his rear end! The Grammys aren’t based on sales, they’re based on artistic excellence. To say just because something sells well that it should be rewarded is ridiculous! That’s like saying crack dealers should be applauded because their product sells for more money then aspirin! Crack is popular. Should we recognize it as being good for you? Beiber’s “music” is aural crack, it’s just pop garbage!
    Just because an artist has had a MARKETING impact doesn’t make him artistically viable. What you Beiber lovers are saying is because a bunch of pre-teen airheads bought millions of his “product” that that somehow equates to artistic viability. Beiber is a commodity, just like shoes, or tires or oatmeal. If a twelve year old thinks Bieber is artistically superior to Esperanza, maybe that’s why America’s kids rank 32nd in scholastic aptitude. McDonald’s low quality food has had an impact on American culture greater than ANY recording artist. Does that mean all the “SUPERSIZERS that eat that garbage are now qualified to run Le Cordon Bleue?

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