Children and Family Musicians make up a large part of our membership, and many have won well-deserved awards for their music. The usefulness of such awards has been a source of some debate; member Paul Nye weighs in.
By Paul Nye
I’ve only been writing and performing children’s music for about 10 years, but one thing I’ve noticed are the plethora of awards available to children’s musicians. I’m wondering if winning any of those awards translates into sales.
A lot of my musician friends brag about how many “views or plays” they have on their YouTube channels, ReverbNation, or Spotify, et al. Yet, less than 1% of them can admit that those “plays” translate into sales. So, that brings me to the awards.
One big award organization is Parent’s Choice. Having researched the organization and listened to some of the “award-winning” music, I’m not a big fan of PC. Undoubtedly, there is some very good material, but some of the recordings I’ve listened to, well…let’s just say I have my opinions. Aside from the outrageous submission fees and user fees organizations like Parents’ Choice charge (obviously they’re businesses that need to make money), there are a couple of reasons why I don’t participate.
To me, children’s music award organizations are a group of adults deciding and recommending to parents what kids should listen to or want to listen to. Frankly, I find the irony rather humorous, if not questionable.
I sing in front of kids about 150-200 times a year. I wonder if PC realizes what kids are listening to these days. I even wonder how many children’s musicians are aware of what kids listen to. I recently asked a group of kindergarteners who their favorite singers/musicians were. Their response: Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, One Direction, Blake Shelton, Jake Owen, Paul Nye. The last one I actually expected because I was with a biased group, but some of the others? I realize that pop radio and what their parents or older siblings listen to influences them. But when I asked one kindergartener what she liked about Miley Cyrus, she said, “She sings good songs.” Then I asked her what her favorite MC song was. She said, “Wrecking Ball.” Several other kids agreed. I took note that none of the kids mentioned any Disney or Barney songs, much less any well-known children’s musician.
Recently, I had a parent at one of my concerts give me a questionable, disapproving look when I sang my song, “Why Don’t Bears Wear Underwear?” Despite the fact that every 5 and 6-year old in the audience was having a blast, dancing and singing with me, I couldn’t help but wonder if that parent actually knew what music his child was being exposed to. The back story is that the concept for the song came from a kindergartener. For sure, Parent’s Choice would not approve of even the title of the above mentioned song, which in my mind makes them not only out-of-touch, but rather political.
The other reason why I’m not a big fan of children’s music awards organizations is that, frankly, I don’t feel I need the validation by such organizations simply to say “award-winning children’s artist/recording,” and then having to pay fees to use their logo, stickers, images, whatever.
There’s no question that winning a PC award may translate into some major market credibility or even bigger and better gigs, if that is what one is looking for. But, the bottom line for me is I write and record music for KIDS in a small market where I’m very happy and content. The more time I spend in front of kids, the more I realize there is a big disconnect between these organizations, as well as other recording industry people (adults) in terms of what kids listen to and what the industry feels they should listen to – or, what is credible for their parents.
One national library resource purchased over 350 copies of my 2nd kids CD without me winning any award or having any other credibility as a Kid’s Pop artist. Maybe if I had “award-winning” after my name they would’ve ordered 1,000 units. I don’t know. I’m happy with 350+. My audience & focus is kids. If adults or parents have an issue with my music, maybe they ought to re-examine what their own kids are exposed to and listening to.
Finally, please don’t any CMNers interpret this as a personal bash against your efforts. I’m very happy for ANYONE who wins any award for their accomplishments. (I’m an award-winning former journalist, although that might not be apparent by this post.) I just feel we need to put the award thing into perspective.
When I feel my music needs some adult validation, maybe I’ll pay up and send one of my CDs into some kids music award organization…or, I’ll just create my own award if for no other reason than laughs. AND, if I ever receive a legitimate award for my kids art, I’ll be the first to let y’all know. Now I gotta go back and sing for some more kindergarteners.
Why Don’t Bears Wear Underwear?
Paul Nye plays for both children and adults over 100 times a year.