Roberto Lovato, head of Latino advocacy group Presente.org on the Grammy Awards eliminating categories.
What do you make of the Recording Academy’s decision to eliminate 31 categories?
At the end of the day, this was about greed. Secondly, it was about… greed. The academy talks about music as a “product.” The awards have become more and more about glitter… they are more profit centered.
[National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences President] Neil Portnow and his cronies made this decision without the participation of the Academy’s 21,000 members. It was essentially an anti-democratic move on their part that finds its corollary in the financial industry’s efforts to uproot communities through foreclosures. The final message is, “We don’t want you to have roots.”
The record business is like the mastodons that got caught in the La Brea tarpits. They can bellow all they want, but will be extinct soon. The truth is, musicians don’t need the music business anymore, especially not a business so calcified, greedy, and resistant to change.
You’re quoted in the Los Angeles Times as calling this a civil right issue. Can you expand on that?
This is a human rights issue, because music is broader than the struggle for civil rights. Like the Occupy movement, which is about the enclosure of public space, this is an issue about the enclosure of musical space.