How Top Artists Really Campaign For Grammys
If you live in Los Angeles, you probably know that Camila Cabello is nominated for two Grammys. Even if you didn’t notice her name on the slate of nominated artists when it came out, the info looms large above the Los Angeles skyline; Cabello has taken out a 40-foot highway-side billboard with her image and the words “For Your Grammy Consideration” – a move some industry executives say is one of the boldest campaigns for votes they’ve ever seen.
A billboard in a metro area like L.A. can cost $15,000 a month – but Cabello is not the only artist going to extreme lengths to get in front of Grammy voters. In the lead-up to the show this year, label sources say they’ve seen more furious lobbying for nominations and votes than ever before, whether that’s artists staging publicity stunts, personally dogging major executives, releasing songs at strategic points in the year (Sam Smith and Brandi Carlile dropped a surprise single together in the last week of nomination voting) or hiring third parties to hunt down emails for the awards’ elusive body of voters. While some artists are going a direct route, others are opting for more subtle campaigns, such as hosting Grammy Museum charity events or performing at high-profile industry gigs.
“It’s politics,” says one manager who’s been involved in the solicitations firsthand (Among packages he received was a Taylor Swift “VIP box,” which he suspects her team sent to thousands of industry insiders around the nomination period.) “Who’s a voter and who’s not a voter? Because the Recording Academy leaves it so opaque, there are these behind-the-scenes machinations.”
While aggressive promotion is old hat for the music business, the amount of Grammy-specific marketing has recently climbed to new heights. “The advertising is ratcheting up,” says Daniel Glass, president of Glassnote Records, which has propped up artists such as Childish Gambino, the Temper Trap and Mumford & Sons for Grammys in the past. “The amount of money being spent on ads in trade magazines, the emails with the dirty words of ‘For your Consideration’ — it used to be subtle and discreet years ago, but it seems like the gloves are off and it’s much more acceptable now to reach out. People are coming up to me and saying ‘I know you’re voting! Please vote for this!’ It’s very blatant now.”