The Grammys Aren't Cool (But Their Music Education Funding Model Is)

Anyone see that latest round of Grammy nominations? I did. And I wasn't impressed. But what's new?

It's always fun to joke about how the Grammys are out of touch with the music-loving public, but this year there's actually proof to back up that claim. Of the Metacritic Top 20 albums this year— that is, the albums with the highest aggregate ratings from the blogosphere and print outlets— only one was nominated for album of the year. (Fun fact: it was Daft Punk's Random Access.)

Fortunately, the Grammys are a lot more than simply stroking Kanye West's planet-sized ego. Case in point: their recent announcement that they'll be partnering with Converse, the Ford Motor Company, and Journeys — the shoe-maker, not, alas, the band— to provide 16 public high schools across the US with $2,000 cash grants to support music programs in under-served communities. Now that's something we can get behind.

Of course, it isn't news that music programs are struggling. We here at IP have been consistently covering this trend, and fortunately for under-funded schools and students, private philanthropic groups have risen to the occasion. (For example, check out our take on the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's efforts in New Jersey and Music Empowers' committment to teaching students the craft of songwriting.)

While most school budgets have stabilized, it's safe to say many of them will never return to their pre-Great Recession music education funding levels, which makes this news all the more important. And the Grammy Foundation, along with their corporate partners, haven't disappointed. Since the inception of its Signature Schools program, the foundation has given approximately $700,000 in grants to close to 350 schools.

And if you're Converse and Journeys, what's not to love? As cynical as this may sound, these companies— who already target the hip teenage market— will get their brands in front of future consumers at a young age. It's the same logic behind Coca-Cola putting vending machines in high school cafeterias. Coca-Cola wants lifetime customers, and so do Converse and Journeys. (And in this case, there's no high-fructose corn syrup-related health risks involved.)

In other words, its a win-win for all participating parties. The schools get a much-needed cash infusion to keep their music education programs afloat, while the donating businesses get unrestricted access to the coveted 13- to 22-year-old market.