CRITIQUE: Three years ago, Yahoo! -- through its print magazine published through a licensing agreement with Ziff Davis Media -- latched onto an idea. It recognized that there existed a natural marriage between music and the Internet. This marriage wasn't going to end in a quick and messy divorce; it was going to go the distance and spawn all sorts of mutant hybrid children like Napster (a mix of search engine, litigation-swamped swap meet and promotion vehicle.), BowieNet (a artist-centric ISP at www.davidbowie.com) and SonicNet (a music portal site that swallowed MTV.com and grew into the MTVigroup).
A marriage like the one between music and the Web can be celebrated. As of three years ago no one else did, so Yahoo! Internet Life executives went ahead and did it themselves. MTV missed the boat, as did the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which produces the Grammy Awards.
Yahoo! Internet Life, however, takes the unusual step of promoting itself with one of the only truly large-scale Internet events. And as the industry has grown in size and prominence, so has the event, staged in New York last week and Webcast on VH1.com.
It's not perfect: Some recipients still don't show up to personally nab their awards. Some jokes by the master of ceremonies were a little off-color or off-target. There also were some logistical rough points in the program itself.
But overall, the awards brought out the stars (David Bowie and Alanis Morissette performed and even Martha Stewart attended) in the music, recording and Internet industries and tied them all together by giving them something to celebrate -- even as their stocks fall.
Oddly, the success of the industry could be the downfall of the event.
It's not that competing award shows will sprout up, but that the difference between online and offline music will become moot and awards will continue to celebrate the music itself, not the medium that conveys it.