2012 Grammy Greats

Joe Pugliese

With the music biz finally (cautiously) optimistic, THR takes a celebratory look at the performers and powers-that-be who will rock, roll and be honored on Feb. 12.

The music business was built on the backs of rebels, from the teen who graduates from troublemaker to rock star to the independent thinker and savvy capitalist who turns passion into profits as a label head to the tech trailblazers who continually change the way we listen, buy and consume. Today, there is no rule book, which is one reason why an artist like Adele can sell 6.2 million albums and have chart-topping songs on multiple formats: pop, urban, rock and beyond. The traditional two-year break between records? Gone, as the likes of Rihanna and Kanye West churn out the latest sounds while their last hit is still in heavy rotation. Looking to be a solo star? A cameo is your best bet: Just ask Nicki Minaj, who had nine last year on her way to fame and ended up selling 2 million albums on her own. Still, while 2011 posted the first year of positive music sales since 2004 (to the tune of 1.3 percent), whether that signified the start of a post-bottom rebound or an Adele-dominated fluke is being hotly debated as physical and digital album sales continue to decrease with song downloads not yet in the zone of making up the difference. Everybody knows what's wrong with music these days, but for this special portfolio, the staff decided to pay homage to what's going right -- the innovators, the slow burners, the multihyphenates and the visionaries who, hopefully, won't screw it up for everyone else. THR raises its lighter to the dealmakers and game-changers, along with 10 Grammy nominees, who are making an impact right now.