How to Fix the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Tips on how to expand its reach—or blow it up entirely

Part of the HOF's image problem may be the seeming insistence on its version of rock history as the version. Committee member Lenny Kaye takes a long-term, more inclusive view of the inductee list: "It's a touchtone for future generations curious about the music," not a definitive canon. And despite the criticism, the idea is favored enough by labels, artists, and managers (sure looks good on the CV) that it's not going anywhere. So why not improve the process? Start by crafting a bigger nominee and inductee list to catch up with history quicker. And while they're at it, expand the voter pool itself: As other committee members admitted privately, their group needs new blood to plead for eventually eligible '80s and '90s acts like Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney, Fugazi, and the Wu-Tang Clan. To quiet some conspiracy theories, the voting process should also be more transparent—even many committee members don't know the identities of the general voters deciding the final inductees.

At least Iggy ensures this year's festivities won't be boring.
Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom
At least Iggy ensures this year's festivities won't be boring.

Most importantly, the HOF needs to do more meaningful things outside their usual realm, to compliment the long-overdue library and expanded archives opening in Cleveland later this year. Let's see them support up-and-coming bands and smaller shows; expanding music-education programs would also be nice. And how about supporting health care and retirement initiatives for musicians slightly less well off than your Springsteens or McCartneys? As writer Brett Milano suggests, the Rock Hall needs dynamic goals to salvage what's left of the music biz: "Put music back on the radio, keep TV stars out of music magazines, challenge the corporate takeover of the concert business." And maybe destroy the RIAA while you're at it.

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