How musicians get voters to take note

August Brown and Andrea Domanick, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

"A lot of it has to do with spreading the word and individual relationships that we have with voters," said Lawrence Lui, partner at Bampire, a New York marketing, project management and artist services company. "Just educating and raising awareness for certain artists in some of these more specialized genres among the Grammy voters committed to that community, which is distinct from their regular fans."

The Recording Academy does not publicize its membership or detail its process for defining and selecting genres and nominees. For years, it discouraged the most blatant public-facing, "for your consideration"-style Grammy campaign ads.

But the academy, say artist managers and those in the industry, has been loosening those restrictions. A Grammy spokesperson declined to say when and how, exactly, it opted to tweak its policies, but academy executives also admitted that its rules around marketing had long been too conservative.

"That's a big turn because the academy used to be opposed to that," said Neil Portnow, the outgoing president of the Recording Academy. "But then you see all the stuff going for these other institutions, the motion picture and television academies. We took a view that we had just been a little too restrictive and really not in step with the way things were now."

There are still boundaries around what campaigns can say.

The academy's rules state that ads must avoid listing the specific ballot numbers attached to a given category or field, but are free to list the category name.

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Yet the Grammy logo and statue are off-limits too, and solicitation at academy events is prohibited during the September-January balloting season.

That means it's still relatively difficult to micro-target Grammy voters. Portnow said that a "for your consideration"-style ad "doesn't involve any direct approach to any individual voters, and there really is no way to get to our voting population directly, and that's by design."

But if you've driven Sunset Boulevard at any time in the last few weeks, it's hard to escape the deluge of billboards keeping artists in voters' minds. Nipsey Hussle, Shawn Mendes, H.E.R., Travis Scott and Ariana Grande all have prominent advertisements at some of the biggest intersections for creative types in the city.

For veteran music execs reared on the old ways of influencing voters, the Grammys relaxing on awards advertising is an overdue change.


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