The Offline Grammys, Or How The Music Biz Blew It Again


There’s no question: The Grammys were the biggest online event of the last couple of days. There were 135,000 Grammy-related tweets by midnight Sunday night, according to new data from Trendrr, and the music awards show was subject to thousands of news stories and millions of blog posts. A viral ad promoting the event has attracted close to 1.8 million views on YouTube.

However, search the net for videos of live performances from the Grammys, and you’ll likely end up empty-handed. Videos on YouTube have been taken down as soon as they become popular, with the site informing its users that such clips “contain(ed) content from Grammys, who has decided to block it.” The official Grammy Awards web site only features clips from the pre-telecast. And what about VEVO, the record label joint venture and supposed music biz savior? The site hastily arranged for a Grammys channel full of outdated clips, many of which have been all but ignored by its audience.

We reported about the Grammys’ online strategy last week, noting that The Recording Academy and its broadcast partner CBS decided to go for what they dubbed a “two or three screen experience.” Translation: CBS wanted its audience to actually watch the event on TV while twittering about it and visiting related sites.

That strategy seemed to have worked: TV By the Numbers reported today that the Grammys scored its best ratings since 2004, and Twitter stats from Trendrr certainly show that all those viewers weren’t exactly passive couch potatoes, with Beyonce provoking more than 100,000 Twitter posts per hour during the show.

However, now that the show is over, one would think that someone would try to channel and monetize all that excitement by making some of the most talked-about performances viral and monetizing them through ads and download sales. The Grammy folks told us last week that it’s oftentimes too hard to clear the rights for these performances — and apparently that was enough reason to not even try.

Take VEVO for example, the joint venture between Sony Music and the Universal Music Group that would really like to become something like a Hulu for music videos. VEVO put together a Grammy-themed channel that includes videos from past Grammy performances last week – and somehow forgot to send out the press release for it until one day after the event. No wonder even some top performances from shows past have only received a few hundred views so far.

Even more absurd: VEVO did not include any footage at all from Sunday’s event, but instead opted to show clips from the announcement of the Grammy nominations, which were broadcast on TV two months ago. Now all we need is a time machine, and we can get this party started!



You can download some of the performances on the iTunes store, which I do believe was announced a few times during the show. I just checked and it says the clips are still to come though.

While I hear your complaints, it’s not as if laws can be rewritten for one broadcast. I think (hope) over the years digital rights will allow organizations like the RA to showcase their archives of GRAMMY performances. The legal department is the worst enemy of any social media effort, not because people aren’t trying or don’t care, but because the law doesn’t know what to do with situations like social media distribution. Writing contracts for this sort of thing is next to impossible. I once had a legal department lawyer not understand that a YouTube embed on someone else’s site was not a case of stealing our content, but sharing, and was in fact something we encouraged. Apart from that, some artists/celebs/creatives are just ridiculously tight with their IP that they won’t sign over their rights for something like this. For example, some artists/celebs won’t even allow you to post their photograph of them on your site from when they were on YOUR show. If a photograph is a problem, then you can see why a musical performance is an entirely huge issue, to various degrees on a case by case basis. (Not speaking on behalf of the RA, just going off of my general experience in this realm).

Anyway, patience is a virtue.

Not Surprised...

Not surprised….. Vevo is a joke. With all the “kissing of the ring” for Doug Morris on the telecast, you think he could have strong-armed the Grammys into releasing the show clips for Rio and the gang at Vevo.

As much as it tries, the music industry will always be made up of C students.

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