At Day 25, we’re halfway through the voting period for this year’s RRHOF ballot–good time for a quick snapshot.
After an initial week or so of blind voting, the totals are now visible (and on occasion will update in real time, although not consistently). It’s not known though if this is because the Hall wanted everyone to “vote their conscience” at first without being swayed by out-of-the-gate numbers or because it caught on that hiding them looked shady and sapped motivation or even just a technical glitch.
As expected, the voting numbers have returned to earth after last year’s insanity, and while it’s impossible to say how many votes are coming in from individuals using multiple accounts, they doubtlessly reflect something a little closer to reality and will be interesting to use as a benchmark going forward. Voting has cooled off a little since this past weekend (November 5-6); up until then the top three or four were seeing daily totals in the 2000-vote range compared to 1400-1600 currently. They’ll likely cool off a bit more over the next couple of weeks; it’s actually a relief that the voting period is 11 days shorter this year–60 days is just too damn long.
It’s probably no surprise that four of the current top five (Journey, ELO, The Cars and Yes) are classic rock acts, with another (Steppenwolf) checking in at the sixth position. Sandwiched in between is Pearl Jam, which has been getting just under 1000 votes per day. I’m a little surprised by this; I expected them to be in either first or second place. It’s interesting though how close these acts are in day to day votes; it’s been common for acts to be fewer than 100 votes apart in overnight totals, although the balance shifts a little day to day. Yes fans, who were a voting machine last year and regularly won the daily totals after the anti-hacking limits were implemented, are less gung ho this year. Facebook comments show that two prior shutouts have sapped enthusiasm. If the Cars are in this position next year it will be interesting to see how the fan base responds.
It bears out what you see in online comment sections and on social media: classic rock fans are generally the most engaged with the idea of Hall inductions and the inclusion of their favorites. This shouldn’t be construed as entirely a “classic rock versus any other genre” mindset; while there probably is some of that, classic rock fans can be intensely competitive with each other (sometimes hilariously so) and that fuels a lot of it.
It does point to something that may be problematic for the Hall and Museum going forward in that this is an aging demographic. I’m not sure why the classic rock crowd is so much more interested in this (a late-midlife desire for vicarious immortality? Insecurity?), but nomination alone doesn’t seem to spark passion with other fan blocks to the same extent. Maybe they do feel shut out by the vote totals for the mainstream acts.
The biggest example of this is also the biggest surprise to me thus far, and that is: Where is the JanFam? Despite a committed and well-run social media campaign, Janet Jackson is currently in 12th place, and while her daily vote totals have touched the mid-600s, they’ve dipped below 400 several times. At first this was chalked up to Janet voters adhering to the spirit of the law and only voting once per day, but indications on Facebook are that more fans are going the multiple account route without making a dent. I know the organizers of the several campaigns for Janet’s induction, especially Mike Litherland with Induct Janet to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, have worked tirelessly and are just as shocked.
There’s been no push whatsoever from Janet’s official social media pages, which raises the question as to the importance of official recognition from an act’s management in an induction bid. It would be interesting to start from the beginning and compare the marketing efforts for different acts and their results with the fan vote and actual inductions. Journey, for example, has actively encouraged its fan base, with the result that they’re now sitting on 81,000 votes and are looking at a fan vote win and likely induction.
Meanwhile, just to use an example I’m familiar with from last year, the Cars are cruising comfortably in third place (obligatory driving reference, sorry) with stronger daily numbers than they had in last year’s second half. There have been a couple of mentions on the band’s Facebook page, but it doesn’t maintain much of an official social media presence so theirs is essentially a grass-roots effort that seems to be working for the only non-operative act in the top 10.
One last thing: I’ve rethought my initial feeling that the NomCom has actually been proactive about the Hall’s record with female artists. Including three females is an improvement on the surface, but it’s essentially the same percentage (15.78 versus 13.33) as on last year’s 15-name ballot. If the Hall is determined to include women, it could’ve gone with four for 20% or even five for 25% without any charge of tokenism and made the ballot a little harder to slice in favor of males. They could name females as Early Influences or possibly for the Musical Excellence category; this is completely feasible but it feels cynical to suggest they use them as some kind of interchangeable part as a stopgap. While we’d never know for sure, “fixing it in post,” a la 2007, would be less than optimal.
What’s your take on the data?