Veteran music executive Steve Stoute penned a letter criticizing the Grammy Awards, which that appeared as an ad in the New York Times on Sunday. Specifically, Stoute singled out Arcade Fire — who performed two songs during the show and capped off the night by winning Album of the Year — as being what he sarcastically called a “sheer coincidence.”
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Not surprisingly, the letter has provoked a wide array of reactions within the industry and beyond. On Wednesday (Feb. 23) afternoon, the group’s manager, Scott Rodger, responded to some of the points made by Stoute and music biz blogger Bob Lefsetz, the latter of whom wrote a post about Stoute’s letter on his site Tuesday, and circulated Rodger’s e-mail.
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“Arcade Fire had the final slot on the Grammys as the ratings are low at the end of the broadcast. It really is that simple,” Rodger wrote. “We were one of the least known acts on the bill for a network audience. Don’t you think I wanted a better slot for the band?”
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“The reason we got a second song was also simple. No big plot,” he continues. “We had no guarantee of air time, but it was simply to play out the end credits of the show, if we even had that much. The show never runs like clockwork to an exact time so the end is always loose. As it happened, the broadcast was covered by sponsors messages and the end credits.”
“For the Grammys international broadcast our main performance, along with that of Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers was completely cut from the show. Our end title performance was bastardised because they cut out ads/sponsor messages completely. It was a bit of a farce. You’d think we’d be given a little more after the fact.”
Show producer Ken Ehrlich, speaking with reporters shortly after the show, said that the group performing twice at the end of the show was a last-minute decision. “I didn’t think about ending the show with Arcade Fire playing a second number until maybe [the day before the show], and they had already rehearsed, so I didn’t really get a chance to talk to them about it. But I was thinking about doing it. One year in New York at Radio City we asked a band to come back and do something. I love this band, I think there’s such vibrancy. I knew that I was going to put them at the end of the show, because we were able to open up both stages for them. Once both stages were there, and there wasn’t a performance that was going to follow them, I just said, let’s leave them up. I talked to Win, I said either way, will you come back? He said absolutely. That was one of the unexpected things.”
In his letter, Rodger goes on to address the criticism from some quarters over the group’s unexpected win.
“Arcade Fire deserved the win this year. They made the best album. If the award was names ‘Album Sales Of The Year’ award, there would be no discussion. Stoute’s letter was nice piece of self publicity. Did he see Kanye’s tweets when we won and the praise he gave us?? He needs to tune in. Eminem made a big selling album but it was far from being his best work. Katy Perry made a big pop record that simply didn’t have weight or credibility. Gaga‘s repackage, great album but it was a repackage of the main release. I think everyone felt it was going to be Lady Antebellum‘s moment having won 5 out of 6 awards to that point. We all felt that way too.”
“I’m proud of this band and what they have achieved,” Rodger continues. “We didn’t lobby any organisation for this nor did the band play the game. We paid our own overhead to do the event, thus the lack of on stage gimmicks. No label picked up the tab.”
“Arcade Fire are now one of the biggest live acts in the world. It’s not all about record sales. It’s about making great records and it’s about building a loyal fan base. The band make great albums, they’re not a radio driven singles band. On top of that, they own their own masters and copyrights and are in complete control of their own destiny. Things couldn’t be better.”
“Best regards, Scott Rodger.”