By MITCHELL PETERS
A Grammy Award is ‘‘probably the most coveted award in the music industry,’’ Universal Music Group Nashville chairman Luke Lewis says. Even the nod leading up to the statuette can boost artist awareness and album sales, as some nominees this year have already observed.
Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Foo Fighters, Vince Gill and Herbie Hancock will vie for the album of the year honor at the 50th annual Grammy Awards, Feb. 10 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. And in the days following the Dec. 6 nominations announcement in Hollywood, the impact was felt at retail. ...
‘‘We’ve had a huge increase in sales, both in terms of immediate sales online and orders at retail,’’ Verve Music Group president/CEO Bruce Resnikoff says, speaking on behalf of Hancock’s Joni Mitchell tribute ‘‘River: The Joni Letters,’’ which also garnered nods in two other jazz-related categories.
In the week ended Dec. 9, ‘‘River,’’ which features guest vocal performances from Norah Jones, Corinne Bailey Rae and Mitchell herself, had an 80 percent sales increase. The set has now sold 33,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Likewise, Gill’s 43-song, four-disc MCA Nashville release, ‘‘These Days,’’ saw a 53 percent increase in sales. The 2006 collection, which has shifted 332,000 units, is also up for best country album.
UMGN’s Lewis says, ‘‘A lot of retailers feature Grammy-nominated product in the front of their stores.’’ In addition, ‘‘you get to put a sticker on the CD for the rest of its life, saying, ’Grammy-nominated’ or ’Grammy winner’ — that’s always helpful,’’ he says.
For British soul revivalist Winehouse, whose alleged drug use has made her a tabloid favorite, the top album nod for ‘‘Back to Black’’ puts the ‘‘focus back on the artistry,’’ Universal Republic Records president/CEO Monte Lipman says.
‘‘What’s happened is that you’ve taken the focus away from the magic of the music and putting in that tabloid story,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s a knee-jerk reaction back into the place where we want to be.’’
Along with album of the year, Winehouse is recognized in six other categories, including artist of the year and song of the year for ‘‘Rehab,’’ which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. These are the singer’s first Grammy nominations. ‘‘Back to Black,’’ which hasn’t left the Billboard 200 since debuting at No. 7 last March, has sold 1.3 million copies.
The only other album to have sold more than ‘‘Back to Black’’ in the category is West’s ‘‘Graduation’’ (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam), which has moved 1.8 million units. With eight total, the Chicago rapper also has nods in the categories for best rap solo performance, best rap/sung collaboration, best rap song and best rap performance by a duo or group.
Upon its debut, West’s third album achieved the best sales week in more than two years, shifting 957,000 copies. The achievement is proof that ‘‘more people need to buy into the greatness of Kanye West,’’ Island Def Jam Music Group chairman Antonio ‘‘L.A.’’ Reid says. ‘‘There are so many people in the world, and the music that we sell barely scratches the surface, so there’s always room for growth.’’
For some acts, a Grammy nomination never gets old. After 13 years, four Grammy wins and multiple nods, the Foo Fighters will vie for the top album prize with ‘‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’’ (Roswell/RCA), which has sold 427,000 copies.
Foos bassist Nate Mendel says the band set the bar high writing and recording ‘‘Echoes,’’ which makes recognition that much sweeter.
‘‘An argument can be made that we’re doing some of the best music that we’ve ever done,’’ Mendel says. ‘‘To have it succeed well enough to where we get a Grammy nomination is fantastic.’’