In many ways, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' viral bus video (above) embodies what the Recording Academy wants to achieve with its social media campaign this year -- shareability.
Regardless of whether the people in the video were actors or geniune, the video of the duo performing "Can't Hold Us" on a bus in New York City caught on like wildfire, gathering 3.5 million views in less than a week as viewers shared the video far and wide.
"It illustrates the visceral impact music has in all of us," said Evan Greene, Chief Marketing Officer of the Recording Academy, which sponsored the video. "This year for us, it's about discovery and having shareable content that connects people."
Greene, who wouldn't comment on whether the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority was involved in the production, has been leveraging social media for the past five years as a way to extend the Grammy brand beyond the one-night award gala and into more of a year-round experience.
We briefly caught up with Greene about the Academy's efforts, which include Wednesday's Grammy Connect event (formerly called Social Media Rock Stars), this year featuring Musaic CEO Scott Vener, Next Big Sound CEO Alex White; Songza Co-Founder Eric Davich and Revolt TV's Senior Vice President of Music & Talent Whitney-Gayle Benta. In a sign of changing times, the event will be held at YouTube's L.A. Space, signifying the video platform's transition from litigation target to key partner.
How much traction has the Academy's social media efforts had over the years?
Greene: Our numbers have continued to grow dramatically. Last year's Grammy Awards was the biggest social media event of the year with 24.9 million social media mentions, up from 19 million in 2012. That motivated us to continue to push the envelope and deepen that conversation. In January 2009, we had 829 Twitter followers and 478 Facebook fans. This month, we have 1.21 million Twitter followers, 1.4 million Facebook Likes and 56,186 YouTube subscribers. We're also on Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. We want to be wherever music is relevant.
You've identifed "shareability" as a desirable attribute for your social media content. How are you planning to do that?
It's hard to legislate shareability. But music has the ability to unleash visceral responses in all of us. The Macklemore & Ryan Lewis bus video shows that. We're also making live GIFs this year. If done right, GIFs are eminently shareable.
How much content do you generate a year outside of the Grammys?
We actually create quite a lot of content. We're constantly capturing content as artists come by for our various programs. We post hundreds of pieces of content a year. And we're posting more on YouTube than we have in the past.
Do you have a plan for reaching out specifically to younger listeners?
We're not using different strategies for different demographics. Instead, we try to appeal to the music fan. Music and media in general are all changing in real time, which makes it tough to serve multiple demographic segments with different strategies. The bottom line for us is to celebrate music in its purest form. We hope that will resonate with fans whether they are 13 or 73.