In these heady two-or-three-screen days, the Grammy Awards has been a classic case study in how social media engagement can pay off ratings-wise. Viewership of the on-air broadcast have increased dramatically since 2009 in younger demographics, with no small amount of credit due to the increasingly elaborate digital campaigns implemented by the Recording Academy.
This year, the main action can be found on Grammy Live, a three-day orgy of live-streaming and social media beginning this Friday and continuing through Sunday, February 12. The events covered will include host-anchored behind-the-scenes coverage (with talent including Alison Haislip and John Norris) and video of other events leading up to the awards, including the MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute honoring Paul McCartney.
While last year, Grammy Live was powered by YouTube’s then-fledgling live-streaming service, this time the awards are working directly with CBS for interactive content, using Akamai (a AKAM) and AEG Digital Media’s internal player to deliver the live stream.
“Partnering with our network partner affords us enhanced opportunities,” Grammy Live executive producer Peter Anton said in a phone interview, such as being able to get more on-air mentions for Grammy Live programming. “It wasn’t part of our overall scheme, but this year there have been broadened opportunities through this new partnership.”
On Sunday, the live stream will follow awards attendees from their limos to the post-show after parties, with multiple camera angles available backstage during the show. Basically, any video you could possibly imagine watching will be accessible via Grammy.com and the Grammy Live iOS apps (optimized for both iPad and iPhone) for a true two- or three-screen experience — except for the actual Grammy Awards, which will only be watchable on CBS.
After the show, the Grammys will once again face the problem they had last year: actually getting the live performances from the broadcast online in a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, the issue remains the same — each performance must be individually approved for release by the artist and rights holders before the Grammys can post it, which isn’t the most efficient of processes.
“We’ve created a mechanism to deliver content almost instantly, and we hope to have most available on iTunes and Vevo right after the show, but we’re still subject to outside approval forces that we just can’t control,” Recording Academy CMO Evan Greene said in a phone interview.
While the Grammys have added an on-site opportunity to expedite getting those releases, the fact remains that if Adele isn’t happy with how she sounds next week, the Grammys won’t be able to officially release her performance.
But despite the limitations of the industry being celebrated, the Grammys are still finding ways to push digital content. A Facebook contest has given up-and-coming band The Almost Kings the opportunity to play a half-hour set on Grammy Live; a deal with Pepsi and Pandora has lead to an original video series spotlighting this year’s Best New Artist nominees.
And then there’s We Are Music, a sort of visual playlist creator powered by Rdio that allows you to combine photos and 30 second clips of music for an iTunes Visualizer-esque experience that you can then share with others (like so). “Music is a part of us. It pens our love letters. It delivers our motivational speeches…” the site says. “Now it’s time to bring your story to life.” It’s kind of cheesy. It’s also kind of true.