The unintended side effects of a Grammy nomination

What happens when you win at the Grammy’s?

After you’ve wiped away the tears and thanked your mum, you can expect to sell a lot more records. Even a global blockbuster like Adele’s 21 saw a 207% sales increase after it won best album in 2012.

Victory also gives you an advantage in the boardroom, says Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. 

“It impacts your ability to attract attention, thereby getting you better deals, better contracts,” he told Billboard earlier this year.

But the halo effect doesn’t end there. 

A new study suggests that Grammy Award winning songwriters are more likely to try out new sounds and make stylistic innovations on their next record.

“Think about Fleetwood Mac going from Rumours to Tusk,” says sociology Professor Giacomo Negro, who co-authored the paper. “The songwriting is more sparse, and you even have influences from post-punk. It’s a very different album.”

“So you begin to see that winning a Grammy has tangible consequences for both the artists and their audience.”

The team studied five decades of Grammy’s ceremonies to reach their conclusion… But they also made a second, more surprising discovery. 

Artists who are nominated for a prize but don’t win go in the opposite direction, making records that are less unique, with a sound that’s closer to existing music in the same genre.

“By implication, the award system apparently exerts a chilling impact on artistic differentiation,” the study suggests, “even though the intentions of award sponsors are often the reverse”.

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