Tonight marked a three-peat for indie labels winning the ‘Big One’, the Grammy for ‘Best New Album.’ While I stand behind my quitting NARAS a few months back for allowing Cyndi Lauper to be nominated in the Best Acoustic Blues category, I am proud of my fellow voters for embracing what is good over what sells. I guess the voting blocks of old no longer sway this category as there are less and less folks working for one of the big four (or by next month three).
Here are the last three:
2011: The Suburbs by Arcade Fire (Merge)
2010: Fearless by Taylor Swift (Big Machine)
2009: Raising Sand by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant (Rounder)
Now I know many will dispute the Taylor Swift claim. Just can’t put her and indie together. I understand. But if the definition of what label is indie is based on an ownership relationship with a major, then Big Machine qualifies. Indie is the opposite of major… The quibble is with the sound of Taylor Swift, which is mainstream pop and that Universal distributes Big Machine (and Rounder as well for that matter). But indie is not a sound and who gets your CDs into stores does not change who owns them and who doesn’t. Who markets them and who doesn’t. Maybe there is a little marketing behind the Big Machine stake to the independence tag, but really what do they gain? Will the indier than thou kid suddenly plunk down 99 cents for a Taylor Swift track?