Less than two months to go to the award ceremony for the best of Latin music. The nominations have already been revealed and the Latin Recording Academy is preparing the final details for the big event in Las Vegas, Nevada. For this reason, we spoke with Manuel Abud, CEO of the Academy, who detailed everything that is coming regarding the 23rd delivery of the Latin Grammys.
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What is the process of the Academy?
– Well, look, the first thing to take into account is that there is a legibility period, which runs from June 1 to May 31. So, it is the product that is eligible in that period that enters the process this year. The second thing is that there are different stages of the process; The first thing is to register the product, this year we received 18 thousand products. Then those 18,000 products are classified to be sure that they are in the category that corresponds to them and is not the one preferred by the artist, the manager or the label. Our members, through committees, classify this product and then, in this way, the first list comes out from which the first round of voting is done. That first round ends and from that first round of voting come these nominations that we announced the day before yesterday; With these nominations the following list is made, the members are sent again, they vote and on November 17 those wrappers are opened where they say “the Latin Grammy is going to…”, and there the magic.
Many times there are no artists mainstream. What is the importance of rewarding all these categories?
— It is that Latin music is not monolithic. Latin music is extraordinarily diverse, we have 53 categories and for us category 4, 7 and 53 are equally important, it’s not a competition, it’s a celebration, it’s a celebration of excellence.
How has the Academy faced this digitization process? We can no longer say that it is something new, it is a digitization in which social networks play a very important role.
— Look, digitization for us has been —truly— a facilitator of the process because today, for the voting lists, you don’t have to send a physical product that the members have to listen to. Now you receive our voting lists that have a little button next to it, click on it and you can hear the product before voting on it. So, we have used technology to our advantage.
Latin Grammy is not an award or a popularity list, it goes further, right?
— Of course, first of all, it’s a progression between musicians, between colleagues. The Academy is a trade association, it is a collegiate body of music professionals and it is they who, after analyzing the registered product, decide, in their opinion, who are worthy of musical excellence and that is the vote, it is a vote to excellence, not popularity or commercial success.
And what can you tell me about the controversies? Especially with urban artists.
— Well, look, when there are 18,000 registered products and only 300 are nominated, there will always be someone who is not happy with not being on that list. My responsibility—and the responsibility of the Academy—is that our membership is representative of the community we serve and encourage them to get involved. So when we receive criticism we are very open; whenever there is a criticism we sit down to see how we can improve, because if someone is complaining —except that they were not nominated and should have been nominated or if an entire community thinks that they are not properly represented— well, we open the doors and sit down with them to see how to help them to be properly represented.
In addition, the Academy takes into account that music is alive and evolves.
– Of course, our job is, precisely, to support this evolution, celebrate them all equally and we do not gain anything if one is there or the other is not, for us the important thing is that everyone feels represented and that they feel celebrated by themselves .
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This year we have Marco Antonio Solís as person of the year. For many there is a tremendous generation gap. What is the reason for choosing those personalities that seem to be already being lost?
— Look, the person of the year is a celebration of the Academy where we recognize a character, a legend. It is not only a musical icon, but it is also the trajectory of his life. In the case of Marco Antonio, he has been an inspiration for generations and you see him in different generations; he continues to inspire, he has written for many different artists and that is why our Board of Directors chose Marco Antonio as person of the year.
How does the Academy rate the evolution of collaborations between musicians?
– Well, we love it. You will remember in the beginning. Latin Grammy and Grammy have always been recognized for having these Latin Grammy moments, Grammy moments, where we have collaborations that are not expected. So, we celebrate and applaud collaborations between artists, precisely because that way our ecosystem becomes much more diverse and inclusive.
What are we going to expect this year at the ceremony? — A great party because now there is something for everyone and for all tastes, there has been a congruence and consistency between what the members have defined as musical excellence and what is becoming a commercial phenomenon or a popular phenomenon, as well that we are very excited for this celebration.
What countries stand out in Latin music?
— I will never like to define or mention one over the other; I think everyone has a lot to be proud of. There have been many contributions from all over the region, so I’ll leave that to you.
“Latin music has become a worldwide phenomenon and I think we all have to applaud it, celebrate it and promote it”
— Manuel Abud
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“The Latin Grammys reward excellence, not popularity”: Manuel Abud