The head of the Grammys gave his traditional speech tonight during the ceremony. This year it was about music education and digital downloading. The argument is that reducing music and arts education in schools is harmful to children.
The Recording Academy of Arts & Sciences doesn’t seem to understand the basic economic idea of tradeoffs. Because Man has unlimited wants he has to decide which are most important. A middle income family can choose to go either to Disney World or Yellowstone. They can’t afford to go to both. A growing company can choose either to spend their advertising budget on an expensive Super Bowl commerical or a farther-reaching direct mail campaign. They can’t choose both. When it comes to education, schools have limited financial resources and time. If a school is failing to teach its students to read and write other less important subjects have to be sacrificed. It isn’t a question of not considering music and art important. It’s just a question of priorities. If the Academy really wants to help schools, they should be promoting effective, efficient reading methods so money and time can be spent on enriching music and art classes. Ripping on President Bush for not finding WMD in Iraq doesn’t solve the problem.
The next topic was digital downloading. Recording Academy president Neil Portnow announced the debut of What’s the Download a website focused on informing the public about music downloading issues. Will it help clarify some of the confusion surrounding downloading? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure opponents of Big Music will have a field day ripping apart the website.