Is this REALLY the best dance music can do? David Guetta and Marshmello nominated for Grammy Awards… but at least there’s some hope with Ten City and Booker T also listed

So the Grammy Awards have released the full list of nominations for their show, currently due to take place on January 31st next year. Their official website claims to have 86 different categories – reading through them gives the impression the actual number is 4000 and the show will be around three weeks long.

Thankfully, I’ve waded through the list so you don’t have to. And some of the names in it aren’t exactly encouraging. David Guetta, who likes remixing patriotic songs for human rights abusing regimes, is nominated for Best Dance / Electronic Recording with Afrojack. Tïesto is also nominated despite everything he’s produced in the last few years being crap.

All, however, is not entirely lost. Because digging deeper into the nominations list provides some hope. Ten City – who currently consist of Marshall Jefferson and Byron Stingily – have had their album “Judgement” nominated in the Best Dance / Electronic Album category. And in a genre as notoriously rubbish at creating albums as house, this is no mean feat.

Praise also goes to Booker T – real name Gary Booker – who has been nominated in the Best Remixed Recording category. His dub of Soul II Soul’s “Back To Life” came out during the spring. I wasn’t particularly a fan at first, but it turned out to be one of those remixes which grew on me. Black Coffee also gets his first ever nomination – a fact that I found quite surprising.

All in all, I can’t help but wonder if this bizarre variety of artists is reflective of an increasing chasm in dance music between the more intelligent, sophisticated sound from the likes of Ten City – and the gorgonzola being churned out by the David Guetta factory…

Marshall Jefferson and knowing your own value

The following might come across as quite disrespectful to Marshall Jefferson. This is certainly not my intention, as I have a great deal of admiration for Mr Jefferson, a man with more talent in his little finger than many possess in their entire bodies.

I have some sympathy for him when he talks about the economics of dance music. I think he’s simplifying it somewhat for the purposes of this article, but I do think he’s got a point. Unfortunately, my sympathy starts to evaporate after this.

For example, he mentions in this article that he once played to a crowd of 4000 in Ibiza for $2000. That’s the equivalent of 50 cent per person. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Accepting that little money to do that is absurd. If one also factors in the cost of travel, hotel and expenses acquired whilst in Ibiza, I’d wager it would be a miracle if he had much of that money left by the time he got back to Manchester. Ibiza is not a cheap place…

To be fair however, this isn’t entirely his fault. He comes from a culture where bragging about what you do and knowing your self worth isn’t the done thing. By rights, the likes of Mr Jefferson, like all of those pioneers who launched house music in the 1980s, should now be retired, very rich men.

But they’re not. Many of them haven’t got a penny to their name. Some of their families even have to hold fundraisers to pay for their funerals when they die. And why? Because ultimately the people who first created this music didn’t see what everyone else saw.

When the majors came along in the 1980s and saw this exciting new thing called house music, they were desperate to get in to it. Hence why many of those early artists signed deals with them. Those deals invariably involved giving up the master recordings to the labels, usually in perpetuity. In other words, forever!

They also accepted the big advances that came with those contracts. Those labels did what the artists should have done themselves – told anyone and everyone about the exciting new sound they were pushing.

They had the passion for the music. They also clearly had the talent. What they largely didn’t possess was business acumen. The labels knew this and ripped them off. Hence the start of the process of whitewashing. The black originators basically allowed this to happen by relinquishing ownership for easy money.

It’s also the reason why one of the originators of house feels that he can only charge $2000 for a gig in Ibiza to 4000 people. Know your self worth. I know that Marshall Jefferson is worth a damn sight more than that, and deep down, he knows it too.

If you think any offer in life doesn’t value you fairly, turn it down. If the person, label or whatever who’s negotiating with you has any respect whatsoever for you, they’ll come back soon enough with something much more respectable…


Update – the original version of this article stated that Jefferson would have had to travel from the USA to Ibiza. He actually lives in Manchester in the UK. Apologies for the error.