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NEAR TRUTHS:
THE HOUSE WINS

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN VEGAS: A collective groan, issuing from the major music centers, was practically audible last week. The thought of having to schlep to Vegas for the Grammys was the source of that angst; if you live in New York City or Nashville, the opportunity to frolic and network under the sunny blue skies of Tinseltown is a unique perk. And how can you have Grammy season without breakfast and/or lunch at the Polo Lounge? Traveling to the land of slot-machine cacophony and Elvis chapels? That feels like somebody lost a bet.

We’re told the show will be moved to 4/3 and take place at the MGM Grand; the weekend in question offers a big tie-in with the NCAA hoops championship for CBS. The CMT Awards, previously scheduled for the same night, will be moved. There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen, several players have noted; the MusiCares and Clive Davis events have to be considered as well as the show itself. One insider attached to the process described it as “a huge jigsaw puzzle, with everyone’s needs and the overall TV schedule.”

Sin City is sufficiently equipped with venues and infrastructure to put on a great TV show and could even create multiple bubbles if needed. And if your act is nominated in top categories or performing, you’ll be there, sparkling in designer attire—how could you miss the opportunity, after two years of doing Zoom meetings in sweats from your home office?

But Vegas is cheeseball, and having to hoof it across those smoke-filled casinos amid busloads of gawking tourists in Bermuda shorts will cause more than a few industry folks to ask, “WTF am I doing here?” Music is certainly a repository of the hipoisie, and execs are treated like rock stars. Does it smack of elitism? Yes. But it’s a fact: The Jersey-based VP of Marketing with the hookups at Barclays or MSG, the Nashville player who’s wired all over Music City, the L.A. A&R exec whose kids attend private school with the offspring of the showbiz elite—to these and other industry peeps, having to rub elbows with a throng of heartlanders in matching T-shirts and flip-flops en route to Music’s Biggest Night isn’t a particularly appetizing prospect. This despite the desert mecca’s billion-dollar attempts to upgrade its image from the Vegas of Moe Greene and Michael Corleone.

C’MON, SEVEN: Assuming Grammy will roll the dice on this move anyhow, other questions loom. There will be no luxury suites to add millions to Academy coffers as there are at the former Staples—the best arena-sized venue, at the MGM Grand, has none. What about MusiCares and the Clive bash, which both throw off additional boatloads of money? Would they take place in the same way in Las Vegas? Would they prefer to go down in L.A. on a different weekend despite the reduced sizzle of being uncoupled from the awards show? Indeed, given the COVID risks, the biz would probably prefer to just go to Vegas for the show than hazard a week of parties and showcases there, with its potential for big caseloads weakening the big show.

Will the demand for tickets from non-music movers and shakers be as furious as it would be in the glamour capital of the world? Surely the major casinos will want to put their whales and other global VIPs in seats for Music’s Biggest Night and comp them for those star-studded parties. This would enable the Academy to cut deals that could lead to some interesting side hustles by Academy middlemen and women—and raises a host of scandalous possibilities.

Grammy has had its miscues in the last year—fumbling the nomination increases in the major categories from eight to 10, after-the-fact additions and corrections to genre categories, the expected Nashville back-scratching and conflicts of interest that saw one of country’s top stars get kneecapped. It seems the all-powerful Executive Committee was powerless to control the maneuvering in this corner of its kingdom. There was some embarrassing clumsiness in the voting process as well, which left poor Ruby Marchand to deliver an emphatic apology. But you’ve got to give them credit for owning up to mistakes and genuinely trying. You can see a real attempt to correct the imbalances—Harvey Mason Jr. and team clearly care about doing the right thing.

But Vegas, where cash is king and temptations are indulged, has a history of looking the other way. So don’t forget—what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.


casino pic: Sascha Düser from Pexels

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