On Sunday, Steve Stoute took out a $40,000 ad in the New York Times’ Life & Style section taking Neil Portnow and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to task for, among other things, having “lost touch with contemporary popular culture.” Days after the ad ran, Stoute spoke to Shirley Halperin of The Hollywood Reporter about the motivation for his advertorial.
“What honestly triggered it was sitting with some really big credible artists after the show, and hearing them complaining that, ‘This is crazy,’ ‘We need to start our own show,’ or ‘This doesn’t make any sense,’” Stoute said. “For me, it wasn’t Arcade Fire winning that was the problem, it was them performing twice. After the backstage moment, the production was set for them to perform again. But if Eminem had won, would he have performed again? That’s when it was, like, “This is fake now.”
Stoute offers his opinion with credentials. In addition to formerly serving as manager to Nas and and other artists, Stoute was the one-time Executive Vice President of Interscope Records. Stoute and Jay-Z currently run Translation Advertising. They are responsible for the State Farm Insurance commercial featuring Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks.
What may have not come across in Stoute’s letter was his frustration that mainstream (particularly Hip Hop) artists were used to market the Grammys, but the same artists only took home a small percentage of the awards. Stoute added that this year’s Grammy awards enjoyed the highest Nielsen rating since 2001. Money is also likely a motivating factor.
“It’s not like the Grammys pay for these performances,” Stoute added. “Those budgets come out of the managers’ pockets and the label’s. To go through that expense, it’s only fair that the artists’ expectations can be managed with a fair voting process that everybody understands.”
Stoute’s full interview, including what appears to be the latest in a long line of artists unhappy with Esperanza Spalding’s Best New Artist win, and his thoughts on voter transparency are all available at The Hollywood Reporter’s official site.