Goodnight Kiss Music


Xmas albums may be Grammy ploy
(Associated Press, Courtesy of the Miami Herald)

LOS ANGELES - Some recent recordings of holiday music may be more about stuffing Grammy ballot boxes than stuffing Christmas stockings, according to a report Thursday in the Los Angeles Times. Earlier this summer, Warner Bros. Records recruited more than 100 employees to croon about a dozen Christmas carols for a planned commercial album, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.

The article said that rival labels have characterized it as an effort to boost the company's Grammy chances by qualifying scores of insiders to vote for the coveted music prizes.

Warner Bros. declined to comment for the Times report and did not immediately respond to a call from The Associated Press.

Under the rules of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, members of the group with technical or creative credit on six commercially released songs - including liner-note writers - can be eligible to cast a ballot in the competition.

The recording academy has about 14,000 voting members.

Warner Bros. would not be the first to record an employee Christmas album. In the last few years, employees of Universal Records and Zomba Music have recorded holiday albums of their own, the Times said.

Universal President Monte Lipman estimated that of the 100 or so staff members who chose to sing on his employee album, about 50 ultimately registered to cast ballots. He likened the labels' efforts to a political party's move to bus voters to the polls.

Asked whether employees are likely to vote for their labels' own artists, Lipman responded: "That's like asking Bill Clinton or any other politician whether they voted for themselves."


Victory on the nationally televised Grammy Awards show can lead to enormous exposure and a dramatic rise in sales.

A spokeswoman for New York-based Zomba, home to such acts as Britney Spears and R. Kelly, told the newspaper that its holiday album "Miracle on West 25th Street" was "something fun to lift people's spirits" and not aimed at creating more in-house Grammy voters. The album had only six songs on it.

Grammy chief Neil Portnow, named to lead the academy last year, spent 14 years at Zomba and served as the label's senior West Coast executive at the time its "Miracle" album was released. He said he didn't know whether the recording was intended to bolster the company's Grammy votes.

Portnow said six song credits alone are not necessarily enough to get an individual voting rights and that some music company employees with such credits have been rejected in the past because they were "otherwise unqualified."

He also promised extra vigilance to maintain voter integrity.
(Posted on Thu, Aug. 28, 2003)