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Recording Academy Calls Earliest-Ever Grammy Date "Open Minded"—But Will the Move Make the Awards Stale?

The Recording Academy announced last week that next year's Grammy awards will hit the Staples Center on January 31, 2010—the earliest date in history, and the first appearance in January in their more than 50-year history. Typically held in February, the show has moved as late as the spring months; up to now, February 8 was the earliest show date. The 52nd annual awards will air live on CBS, and the eligibility period for submissions will be shortened by one month.

The Los Angeles Times suggested that the move will make the show appear dated, because the eligibility period will be so much earlier. “Such a move will have a noticeable effect on the telecast,” proposed The Times' music blog, Pop & Hiss. “The music industry tends to release some of its biggest albums during the holiday season, and in 2008, a number of major artists released albums too late to be represented on the Grammy telecast.”

The academy downplayed the move as standard reinvention. “Every year, we look at every element of the Grammy awards as a fresh canvas to paint on. So just as the bookings may be different, the set design is very often different, the marketing approach—every element [can change],” said Recording Academy president and C.E.O Neil Portnow. ”And in the same fashion, we review the dates... in consultation with our network partners, who have a tremendous vested interest and also very educated opinions about what can be successful. We look at it every year.”

As far as what to expect next year in terms of production, Portnow said it's too early to say. “We've done some [evaluating], and there's still more to do. [We're asking ourselves] what happened last year that we liked and what was well received? What's going to make sense in a different year? What's new and different in terms of set design, lighting, staging, sound equipment, technology, and so on? It's nice to be able to be open minded and fluid. It's always good to review and freshen up. When you get too comfortable, it's probably not a good thing.”