Editorial: The Dove Awards, What To Think?
April 19, 2011Posted by on
As many editorials do these days, this started off as a Twitter dialogue with my followers @cmzine. This is GMA week, with the Dove Awards happening Wednesday and airing on Sunday. This brings up so many questions that I can’t possibly tackle all of them in an easy flow of conversation, but I’ll try to cover as much ground as possible, then see what you think about the award show and the topics that it brings up.
Who or what is the GMA?
To start, let us take a closer look at the organization that is the Gospel Music Association. What do they consider themselves to be? Well, let’s start with their mission statement:
To expose, promote and celebrate the Gospel through music.
Founded in 1964, the Gospel Music Association serves as the face and voice for the Christian/Gospel music community and is dedicated to exposing, promoting and celebrating the gospel through music of all styles including pop, rock, praise & worship, black gospel, R&B, hip hop, southern gospel, country, and more.
The GMA community consists of 4,000 members includes agents, artists, church leaders, managers, promoters, radio personnel, record company executives, retailers, songwriters, and other industry visionaries.
The GMA produces the GMA Dove Awards, GMA Music Week and IMMERSE: GMA’s Music Training Experience.
So that is what they say they are. Sounds about right, doesn’t it? I mean, besides that some of those genres are rather out of date and one somewhat racially related (as if race has anything to do with the body of Christ).
But who are they really? They are people with a vested interest in seeing certain artists find their way onto the podium. There are two types of members, “Professional” and “iMember”, depending on their direct involvement in the industry. Either way, you pay your way in for a rather nominal fee.
What is more telling is what each type of member gets:
GMA MEMBER BENEFITS GMA EVENTS Professional iMember Voting Rights – GMA Dove Awards – Members receive the exclusive opportunity to determine who the Dove, Christian music’s biggest award, is given to. All Categories 4 Categories Advanced & Discounted Ticket Purchase – GMA Dove Awards – Members will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the GMA Dove Awards before tickets go on sale to the public. Seating is a first come, first serve basis. Included Included Complimentary Nominee Ticket – GMA Dove Awards –Nominmated members receive one (1) complimentary ticket to the awards show. Included N/A Production Submission – Dove Awards – Professional members have opportunity to submit considerations for Dove Awards voting process Included N/A Perfromance Opportunity – Dove Awards – Members are given priority on Dove Award performance slots. Included N/A RESOURCES Sound Heathcare- GMA offers an opportunity for all domestic Individual GMA members to obtain comprehensive health insurance coverage. Included N/A Billboard Magazine – One Year Print Subscription with Online Access to Billboard.biz – GMA members save 44% off the annual cover price, and get full online access to Billboard.biz, the Billboard Bulletin and over 50 years of article and charts Archives (a $240 retail value!) Included Included Homecoming Magazine is offering all GMA Members a subscription price of $10 a year, a 50% discount! So instead of getting six issues a year at $21.95, GMA Members receive it for only $10 – that is a 54% discount Included Included Abenity Discounts – Access to over $4000 in savings a year on daily items- The GMA has teamed up with Abenity to offer our members discounts of over $4000 on daily items! Click here for a list of some sample savings!
What we have there is evidence that those that are directly involved in making sure that certain artists get exposure are also the ones who are voting on the ones who get that exposure. This would be like the marketing director of the New York Yankees getting a significant vote in who gets to be in the annual All Star game.
What it also means is that artists that are associated with larger labels have a stronger influence than bands with independent labels, generally. Think about it, if you are in charge of a large label with hundreds of employees, are you not going to make sure that all of your employees are GMA members? That way, they will all get a significant vote and influence for your artists. A band on a small, independent label has no chance, even if they are more popular, sold more albums and/or created a better piece of art that year.
Knowing all that, do we still care?
Now that we know who is in charge of the Dove Awards and a little bit about why these are the artists nominated, do we still care? There is a way to look at it and say yes and there is another way to say no. I want to look at the “yes” answer first, to show that there is a good reason for these award shows to exist.
Let’s look back at their mission. “To expose, promote and celebrate the Gospel through music.” Does the Dove Awards, in some way, accomplish this mission? Are we only interested in the music, or in what the music is accomplishing? The nominated artists have absolutely in an overall sense edified the body of Christ and reached some group or another with the Gospel of Christ. Say what you will about the music, we all have differing tastes in music, but these people love Jesus Christ (we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, though there are wolves among sheep in every part among the body of Christ) and are doing more than most of us to share that with their gifts.
On the other hand, I don’t care at all. Here at CMZ, we cover a wide variety of genres (not all, but many), even some that I don’t particularly care much for. However, I am biased. If you don’t think that reviewers are biased, you must think that they are robots. I like alternative and punk rock more than anything and my reviews generally show that. When was the last time a band like House of Heroes was nominated for something besides album art (packaging)? That is a throw away nomination. Sure, Switchfoot might get nominated some years because of their popularity, but they are more the exception than the rule. So, I don’t care because I don’t really have a rooting interest. It is like asking me to pick which Spanish league basketball team I want to root for. I don’t care about Spanish basketball. I care about the NBA. I don’t care about the GMA Dove Awards overall because I don’t regularly listen to 9 out of 10 artists that are nominated from year to year.
So what do we get out of this? Do we care that this thing is basically rigged? Do we care that Arcade Fire won the Grammy’s, but Anberlin will never get a sniff out of the Dove Awards? Does it depend on if you are a bigger fan of CCM or of indie rock? Will it ever change? Does it need to change? I’ve given you the evidence I could find regarding what goes into the GMA Dove Awards, but it is up to each one of us to decide its importance.