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Analysis: Hanneman Snub Is Bad Business

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Hanneman ADF

It’s not as a fan or a supporter of metal that I bristle at the snub of late Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman during Sunday’s Grammys telecast. After all, a Grammy award is dispensed not by fans, appreciators, or enthusiasts, but by a trade group — the Recording Academy. It is not a measure of awesomeness. It’s recognition of success as gauged by voters inside the industry, those who have attempted to reach the same goal and intimately understand the odds of a big score. (Sure, voter self-interest long ago made its results an annual laughingstock. But even that makes sense.) The point is: Success, not artistic merit. The latter can’t be quantified anyway.

So, yes, on the basis of “art” or whatever, it’s stinky that Hanneman didn’t appear in the broadcast’s annual slide show of music’s recently dead. But forget that cuz there’s a practical issue. This snub demands to be re-addressed on the easily-grasped, tangible basis that Hanneman generated a ton of revenue for the recording industry: its manufacturers, its agencies, its rights-holders and administrators, its technicians, and its executives. Hanneman was a member of the platinum club. Over 30 years, Hanneman drove Slayer’s sales of albums into the tens of millions. That’s a lot of cash flowing from Hanneman’s fretting hand and lyric notebook to the gatekeepers and wheel-turners in his industry (not to mention the merch, gear, and live music sectors). He made it, we paid it, they took their cut.

So it’s on the basis of commerce that there is a mandate for his industry group to slot him a moment in their reel of farewells at their high-profile event. For Hanneman fits the Grammys’ own fan-unfriendly definition of success — like 2013 snub Paul Gray of Slipknot. They were earners. They pumped profits into the industry, one which seems to suffer worsening health every year. Yes, okay, to overlook them is a display of ignorance about who really “matters” to the artform, and of a disregard for Grammy winners in niche categories yadda yadda. But that’s subjective. Business is business. And this is bad business.

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