Who Cares About the Grammys? Broadway

Lady Gaga arrives via an egg at the 53rd Annual Grammys

As you may have heard (from this site and my live tweets from the red carpet), I had the good fortune of being invited to the 53rd Annual Grammys this year! What, you may ask,is a die-hard showtunes fan doing at the Grammys? I was there with friends — who just so happened to be nominated for their Broadway musical cast albums.

Yep, that’s right, in addition to aspiring to a Tony your new musical can add the Grammys to its list.

While you could argue that Glee and even maybe Lady Gaga (did you see her Phantom of the opera moment last night?) should be considered musical theater nominees, the actual nominees this year were:

  • American Idiot
  • A Little Night Music
  • Fela
  • Promises, Promises
  • Sondheim on Sondheim
American Idiot wins "Best Cast Album" at 53rd Annual Grammy Awards

And the winner was . . . American Idiot, produced by Green Day front man Billy Joe Armstrong himself. This isn’t a huge surprise. While there’s a wide swath of grammy voters and grammy categories, any given voter can only vote in a limited number of categories (in an effort to encourage people to only vote in the categories for which they potentially know something.) In this case, we can only hope that the voters for musical theater had seen or at least heard all the shows. The reality is though, that you just can’t beat good old-fashioned name recognition.

So how do you get nominated for Broadway musical cast album?  Produce one. Producing a cast album can cost anywhere from $250,000 to upwards of $400,000 (in the case of some of this years nominees and you might be surprised to know just who that was.)

Making a cast album for a Broadway musical is not assumed anymore. It only happens when a few producers and investors decide to take the time and spend the money. Many times the producers of a show will collect a few extra dollars from their investors to put out a cast album but sometimes it’s just an avid producer or investor that decides, on their own, to pick up the tab for a show that doesn’t have the resources.

Company’s like Sh-k-Boom are helping to keep it alive but with the bad economics of cast albums, they may become rarer and rarer. So next time you listen to a cast album, look at the liner notes and thank those few dedicated people who made it happen. While an investment in a cast album may not reap huge financial returns, in most cases, it’s return enough to have an album of great showtunes and broadway voices that we all can listen to in perpetuity.

Congrats to all the Grammy winners and thanks friends, for inviting me along for the ride.

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