Recording Academy President Neil Portnow made a brief but pointed speech criticizing music streaming services at this year's Grammy Awards ceremony. The following day, CBS touted record-breaking figures for video streaming of the show in spite of a technical mishap that prevented many users from accessing the broadcast.

Portnow took his streaming shot after a virtuoso performance by 12-year-old piano prodigy Joey Alexander. After the performance was met with robust applause and cheers from the audience, Portnow asked, "When you stream a song, all the people that created that music receive a fraction of a penny. Isn't a song worth more than a penny?"

Last year, Portnow also made a comment that was less pointed but also appeared to include streaming services as part of its target. At the 2015 Grammys, he asked, "What if we're all watching the Grammys a few years from now and there's no Best New Artist award because there aren't enough talented artists and songwriters who are actually able to make a living from their craft?"

That speech could also have been intended to criticize music fans who illegally download music for free, but Portnow's latest comments more specifically allude to the small royalty payments that artists receive when their music is streamed on Spotify, Pandora and other streaming services.

Nevertheless, in what seems somewhat contradictory to Portnow's remarks, rapper Common, who stood beside Portnow during his speech, stated that music fans could help support artists by "subscribing to a music service."

In an interesting irony that seems to confirm that streaming of all types of media is the wave of the future, the next day CBS trumpeted the record streaming audience that watched its Grammy broadcast, which included Portnow's anti-streaming comments.

Even though a technical glitch left many viewers unable to access the program until 10 p.m., the number of viewers watching the Grammys via the CBS subscription All Access streaming service broke records with a 192 percent increase over last year's Grammys and an even larger increase in time spent watching the broadcast.

The broadcast was also available online as well as on various streaming platforms such as Roku, Google Chromecast and Apple TV as well as on smartphones and tablets.

"This year we offered the live stream to consumers in even more markets and across more devices than ever before, and music fans responded in a big way, breaking records for the service across every metric," said Marc DeBevoise, executive vice president and general manager of CBS Digital Media for CBS Interactive.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.