If you’re searching on YouTube for performance clips from the 64th annual Grammy Awards, you’re going to have to wait nine more days.
But you might want to check Facebook.
The Recording Academy signed a two-week exclusive on the clips from the Sunday (April 3) telecast with Meta, the corporate owner of Facebook.
Panos A. Panay, co-president of the Academy (along with Valeisha Butterfield Jones) frames the decision to partner with Facebook one of several new things the Academy is doing to try to adapt to changing viewing habits. He declines to disclose how much Facebook paid the Academy for the two-week exclusive window. He characterizes it as a one-year deal after which the Academy will assess it.
“The clips will live for a limited time on Facebook on individual artist pages. Also, much more importantly, instead of having what I’ll call a ‘pull model,’ where people have to go search for [Grammy performance videos] on a particular site, these are fed through users’ feeds based on their interests. The early results are amazing. We’ve had over 15 million fans [access] these videos in their feeds [in the first 24 hours after the show]. Also, artist pages are getting a lot of traffic.
“We’ve also done some innovative stuff with TikTok where we collaborated with multiple influential creators to do live watch parties. This is our first time doing that. We worked with our partners at CBS to allow what we call second-themed viewing. These creators hosted live watch parties for their followers. We called it ‘Who Are You Going to Grammy With?’
Also we’ve done a very cool partnership with Roblox, the gaming platform. For the first time ever, we made a foray into the gaming metaverse space. We hosted multiple meet-and-greets with Grammy-nominated artists. We had a live concert with Camilo. That got over 2.2 million participants over just a handful of days.”
Panay sees these moves as a necessary reaction to changing viewing habits, not just for the Grammys but for all awards shows and for most broadcast television offerings.
“We’re saying the way that fans are accessing music, the way that people are experiencing these awards shows, they’re changing. They may not be necessarily sitting around waiting for a show to turn up on the broadcast network at a particular time.
“Our job is to keep experimenting; keep driving ahead and not just assume that what worked yesterday is going to continue working for the next 64 years. It ain’t. I see this Academy doing different things, which we all have to, whether it’s the Recording Academy of the Academy of Motion Picture [Arts & Sciences] or anybody else. We all have to be looking at new ways of engaging not just new fans but new creators. That’s important. That’s critical.”
These social media ventures fall under the purview of John Loken, the Academy’s new executive vice president of marketing, who oversees a social media team.
Panay says that all of the artists who performed on this year’s Grammy telecast were advised of the deal with Facebook and agreed to it, as a condition for appearing on the telecast. No artists balked at the arrangement, he says.
“The partnership with Facebook was done in consultation with all of our stakeholders, both labels and the artists themselves, as well as our broadcast partner [CBS]. It was part of the arrangement we made with the artists.”
Panay is happy with the results. “If you go the artist pages on Facebook, you’ll see it right there. It’s extremely prominently featured.”
Panay, who was born in Cyprus, sees a global audience for Grammy performance clips. “We’re saying, ‘Yeah, there’s an audience that lives in America, but for me personally, not having been born and raised in America, I know that accessibility of this [material] outside the country is important. Let’s face it: Facebook has 2.2 billion active daily users globally. I know sometimes in the States we tend to get a bit myopic about what people are watching and where they’re watching it…It’s a global world. You see this even in the artists. Look at the diversity we had [among artists who performed on the telecast] this year.”
This year’s list of performers included several artists who were born outside the U.S. – BTS (South Korea); J Balvin (Colombia); María Becerra, who sang with Balvin (Argentina); Aymée Nuviola, who sang into and out of a commercial spot (Cuba); Mika Newton and Lyuba Yakimchuk (Ukraine); and, closer to home, Justin Bieber and Daniel Caesar (Canada).
As Panay points out, the 15 million people who accessed videos on their Facebook feeds in the first 24 hours after the telecast far exceeded the number of people who watched the 3-1/2-hour Grammy telecast on CBS.
“The ratings are public,” he says. “You see that we broke 9.5 million viewers on the broadcast network [watching the show live]. Think of the reach when we’re talking about these numbers: 15 million in 24 hours that watched these artist performances, 2.2 million on Roblox. These numbers add up.
“You can’t just look at a particular metric or lens. Our job is to keep experimenting and keep trying. We’re going to get some things right and we’re going to get some things wrong. Our job is to keep evolving and pushing ahead.”