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Steve Jobs will be awarded a special Grammy (posthumously) in February, 2012.
Maybe he should get ten. Or a special Giant Grammy that can only exist in low-earth orbit, or be used as statuary at Apple's Cupertino, Calif. campus.
Jobs, who died on Oct. 5, will be given a Trustees Award, which honors “outstanding contributions to the industry in a nonperforming capacity.” The academy’s national board of trustees decided to honor Jobs because he “helped create products and technology that transformed the way we consume music, TV, movies, and books,” the announcement said.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences certainly made the right call here, even if the Jobs Grammy will have to awarded posthumously.
I'm far from the first person to argue that Steve Jobs saved the music business, making it possible for there to continue to be a National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to award posthumous Grammys. Here's Ed Nash, who runs a entertainment management firm in, yes, Nashville:
The truth is that Steve Jobs saved the music industry. In the late-90’s, computer and internet technology had reached a point that made the transfer of reasonably sized, high quality MP3 files extremely easy and inexpensive for millions of people. Once that point was reached, the music industry was set on an inevitable collision course with modern technology. The stasis of the (relatively young) modern music industry was shaken; nothing would ever be the same again.
The solution was the iTunes Store, coupled with the iPod and the Jobs-approved 99-cents-per-song pricing model, which the music industry initially balked at:
With iTunes, Jobs not only provided a legal alternative, but amore convenient alternative. He understood that people would pay 99 cents a song if it were easier than stealing, and of equal importance he understood that the vehicle — the iTunes application itself — would need to be free. iTunes didn’t just carry Jobs’ vision to fulfillment — it built a commercial superhighway and saved the music business.
What's interesting about all this is that Jobs didn't have any particularly deep investment in the music business, aside from being a music fan — like many people of his generation — and recognizing that most of his customers were also music fans. As Nash points out, Jobs and Apple created a technological platform that was far, far better than anything the music business was going to come up with on its own. The iTunes Store could then function as an aggregator of all the major labels' offerings.
It's perhaps the best example ever of the Silicon Valley Way — and of course the Apple Way — fixing almost everything that was wrong with a non-Silicon Valley industry.
Is it a model for the future? Well, Apple substantially reworked the wireless business with the iPhone and iPad. But as the saying goes, the music matters. And the wireless industry can't give out Grammys.