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    Friday, February 16, 2007

    Is American Idol Bigger Than Music?

    An interesting thing occurred the other night but i have been too busy to speak about till now. The other night was the 49th annual Grammy Awards. It was also an American Idol night. Im not really a fan of either, with the Grammy's always ignoring my favorite category of electronica, and nominating bunk artists with terrible songs. Is madonna electronica's finest? Um not even slightly. I won't get started but i tend to the think the award show is more for publicity and well-known folks. Ive never been a big fan of idol either, but its ratings continue to average 30 million plus viewers. I digress...The "Idol" audience on Fox was 28.3 million while the Grammy Awards were being watched by 15.1 million people from 8 to 9 p.m. EST, Nielsen said.

    Wow. So that means people would rather watch a contest about making it to the industry instead of seeing the industry heavyweights themselves? Several things are at play here:

    1)Consumer Decides- This is a Nike maxim, but as seen from Time's person of the year to the lame cop-out ads for "design your own Super Bowl ad!". Clearly their interests lie with a more compelling story of American Idol than with a star-studded event like the Grammy's.

    2)Authenticity- While American Idol seems somewhat contrived to me, consumer's love it when they show the terrible singers. Everyone identifies with it and LOVES it. Hey i am that terrible singer. And people have more in common with that than Beyonce gyrating on stage. Also the celebrities shown at the Grammy's really don't reflect society. Do we need to pay them more?

    3)Story- Idol catalogs every aspect of the contestants lives from the initial stages on to the end. Everyone loves a story, better brands tell better(or have) stories, and its takes something of interest to grab consumers attention and affect their behavior. The Grammys are just about hoopla and performance. How could they do a better job of captivating the audience and convincing them to watch?

    4)Landscape- I thought this was the death of Music as so the industry says?- Music is now consumed digitally, not in record stores. How does the changing landscape matter in this? DIY consumers are everywhere, meaning Idol is a legitimate platform for them to strive for and reach the mainstream. In fact it seems like the most attainable way to get a deal, judging by the numbers of contestants. Why aren't there more platforms for people to strike it in the industry?

    5)Access- This may be under the story category, but Americans love reality tv. Clearly with sitcoms falling by the wayside and everything being "real-life" this is part of culture. Idol is able to go behind-the-scenes. Grammy's are the glossy paint job on the brand new car. While fans know what went into the albums up for awards, there is little time or look into the history of albums or anything behind the music. Providing access to even the album of the year nominees could capture a greater audience's share.

    6)Personality- We know more than we could ever have asked for about the judges. Sometimes they even outshine the contestants on idol. Grammy's have none. Nuff said..

    So what do the Grammy's do?
    Involvement- Things like Justin Timberlake's duet generated massive amounts of chatter. Involving consumers in the process, show and behind the scenes would go a long way to establish the Grammy's as an award show for the people. Two-way conversations are how brands and consumers should interact.

    Point of Difference- The Grammy's need to do a better job celebrating why American Music is special, different and how it can continue to grow. Make me want to absolutely not miss a minute of the Grammys.

    Reason- Award shows are a dime a dozen. Don't be afraid to embrace change. Consumers adopted downloading without you. While they won't run away, they will turn their heads and their attention. I should want to talk about it the next day at work.

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