Conventions & Awards

GRAMMY nominations can HURT an artist’s career, Yale study finds

Grammy nominations are an affirmation from one’s peers that lead to media attention and sales, but a new study led by a Yale professor shows a downside to the coveted awards.

“The net effect is actually negative”

The study by Balázs Kovács, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School Of Management, and colleagues suggests that Grammy nominations often come with a downside.

The researchers analyzed Grammy awards over six decades and tracked how much the winners and nominees went on to differentiate themselves from other musicians. In other words, “whether their albums became more or less similar to those by others in their genre.”

Grammy winners feel empowered and grow creatively, according to the study, but nominees who don’t win often become more creatively cautious and conform more closely to their genre’s norms and styles.

Most Grammy awards categories have five to ten nominees but only one winner. “The net effect is actually negative,” says Kovács. “Having awards might be bad for the field.”

The study did not try to answer why many non-winning nominees might become less creative. But it’s not a stretch to imagine artists sticking close to what got them nominated in hopes of winning next time. Kovács also speculates that the loss might cause anxiety that makes it harder to be more creative.

“If people were to do the same thing again and again and again,” says Kovács, that’s not good for the artist, the genre, or fans.

Find the full study “What’s Next? Artists’ Music after Grammy Awards” here.

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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