Of all the parties to hit during Grammy week, the annual "Friends 'N' Family" pre-Grammy party might be the most unique.
Held at the Los Angeles Park Plaza Hotel Friday (Jan. 24) night, FNF isn't like your average Grammy party because it's a place where music fans can rub shoulders with label executives, all while enjoying music, food and drinks.
"It's something where there's no record company sponsoring it," FNF co-founder Mark Beaven told Billboard.biz. "Each individual is fortunate enough to be doing well in the business, gives back to the community as a whole and supports a community. To me it's like this, one big non-denominational party to enjoy."
Joe Jonas, Michelle Branch, Zandaya, Joanna Krupa, the McClain Sisters, Nick Simmons, and Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin, were among the attendees at the 17th annual event. The night featured performances from Iggy Azalea, Hiatus Kaiyote, New Beat Fund, Betty Who, and MKTO, plus DJ sets from Rudimental, Sultan & Ned, Le Youth, Starsmith, Future Cut, Redlight, and The Jane Doze.
This year, FNF moved on from its old spot on the Paramount Studios lot to the venue 1925. "The size of the party has changed quite a bit," Beaven's noted. "We've been fortunate enough to always have great music, and great people supporting it. I just think it's become more and more known. We have more and more people that kind of come forward and have been part of the overall event and supported it."
Added Warner Music Exec VP, Pete Ganbarg, "We get to invite our most important contacts and colleagues. All of us being able to celebrate Grammy week under one roof has become a great annual tradition."
Aside from FNF, Ganbarg was gearing up for another big event. "I'm looking forward to celebrating with all of my Warner Music colleagues on Saturday (Jan. 25) -- we got a couple of exciting things planned, and it should be a good day. There's a little private party afterwards with some special guests," he said.
Although he was shy on the details, Ganbarg dropped a performance hint. "One of our artists performing at the Grammys Sunday (Jan. 26) night is world premiering a new single from his much anticipated sophomore album after he was nominated for best new artist last year."
Show secrets are just some of the things you can pick up on during Grammy week. And in the midst of parties typically catered to VIPs, FNF's "all-inclusive" guest policy makes it a standout. "Everybody comes together as one democratic mass and that's what makes it so much fun," Mercury Records President David Massey said.
Adding to last night's fun factor was the venue itself. The location switch injected an even more grandiose feel into the room, with a large staircase leading to the main show area, and packed hallways at every turn. Yet FNF still managed to keep things business casual, thanks to the food trucks in the parking lots.