Why The Grammys Returned To New York After 15 Years

Madison Square Garden
Ben Hider/Getty Images

Madison Square Garden

“It really shows New York’s primacy as music capital of the world,” says Julie Menin of the Grammys’ move from Los Angeles’ Staples Center to Madison Square Garden for the first time since 2003. Menin, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, worked with labor groups, local organizations and MSG for over a year to help clear the way for the big night’s production -- all under the guidance of Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow, who approved the move.

“I saw the 60th anniversary on the horizon,” says Portnow, “and I thought, ‘That’s a great occasion to be back in New York.’” He was adamant that the show return to MSG: “Barclays [Center in Brooklyn] is fantastic,” says Portnow, “but really for me, the Grammys had to be in Manhattan.” Menin, who expects the Grammys to bring in $200 million in economic benefits to the city, spoke to Billboard about making the move happen.

In March, your office ­released a study on the New York music industry. What did you find?

When I became commissioner [in 2016], I kept hearing anecdotes about people leaving the New York music scene, [but] nobody could point to a single piece of data supporting that. We commissioned the study to quantify the music ecosystem here, and one of the most interesting things it showed is it’s just the opposite: The music industry ecosystem is stronger than it has ever been.

What was your office’s role in bringing the Grammys to New York?

Last February, I went to Los Angeles to meet with The Recording Academy and to have a dialogue with them about the possibility of bringing the Grammys to New York. Our role was to make sure costs were being defrayed. We quickly assembled a host committee and a labor coalition to help. The Garden was critically involved.

What’s going to make New York special?

There’s so much that New York City brings in terms of unique experiences that can occur in the five boroughs. Tapping into that was critical. I think this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of getting signature awards shows here. There’s a real excitement generated in New York.

Courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment
Julie Menin
2018 Grammy Awards

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 28 issue of Billboard.