In 1984, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was one of the first people to receive the National Medal of Technology, which was conferred by then-President Ronald Reagan. In 1987, he was awarded the prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service (for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Younger). And that was long before the first iDevices ever hit the market. In his long and storied career as the head of the company he helped to craft, he has received numerous honors and awards, including being cited by Forbes as the most powerful person in business for 2007 and getting inducted into the California Hall of Fame later the same year. And it appears as though death is no deterrent for this highly successful technology mogul. It has been announced that he will be one of the many recipients of a Grammy Award come February.
I know what you’re thinking: Steve Jobs is not a musician. In fact, he isn’t even involved in the music-making process; he’s just on the periphery of the industry (not to mention other entertainment fields). So how can he get a Grammy? As it turns out, The Recording Academy strives to “honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry”, which means that the creative process (in terms of the arts) is not the only one recognized by this preeminent music organization. And in truth, there are all kinds of awards to honor people in and related to the music industry, just like there are academy awards not only for actors and directors, but also for writers, technicians, and people who create the technology that enhances and expands the filmmaking process and changes the industry as a whole.
In February, Jobs will be honored with a Trustees Award, given for “significant contributions, other than performance, to the field of recording.” And it would be difficult to argue that any one development over the last decade (and then some) has done more to change the face of the music industry than the ubiquitous iPod. While CDs sales have steadily diminished in favor of the compact storage that MP3 players provide, Apple has made their technology into the one to beat, and nobody in the market has come close. And then there’s the iTunes store. Thanks to Apple’s deal-making prowess and their proactive approach to leading the industry into a new era (not to mention giving artists an opportunity to expand their earning potential), they have become the largest music store on the web.
Jobs is one of three recipients of the award this year, and he finds himself in good company with composer, arranger, and bandleader David Bartholomew and jazz recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder (he is the only industrialist to make the cut). Although the contributions he has made to the music industry through Apple are indisputable, it is interesting to consider that they may not really be for the good of the industry. But the truth is, Jobs simply took a bite out of a growing market for online media and turned it into a profitable business model. So for that, artists with an eye on protecting IP should thank him, and The Recording Academy looks to be the first in line.
Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. Evan is a contributing writer for Aplus.net offering professional web hosting and graphic design services.