Sunday, February 5, 2012

The 54th Grammy Awards ceremony is only eight days away and the Recording Academy is kicking off the next phase of its digital and social campaign. Under the heading of “We Are Music” the Academy and its partners are harnessing the power of social, mobile and digital to make the award show more modern than ever.

The Recording Academy made the decision to invest in social and digital media several years ago (you can read Mashable’s past coverage of the 2010 and 2011 campaigns) and the organization and its awards show are now seeing the dividends. Big time. The latest trends in social TV and second screen experiences are in direct alignment with the road Grammy has been traveling for years.

We spoke with Evan Greene, Chief Marketing Officer of the Recording Academy, and he told us the strategy around the 2012 Grammys was to put mobile and digital at the forefront of the project. That means the campaign and the show itself were designed with the digital and mobile attributes in mind from its inception, not tacked on at the end. As someone who has been beating the drum of making social and digital a part of the creation process from beginning to end, this is great to see.

 Grammy Live and the Second Screen



As in years past, the cornerstone of the digital Grammy experience is around Grammy Live. Grammy Live is a three-day webcast of special Grammy events, red carpets and parties, designed to bring fans behind the scenes and close to all the action.

Although CBS (Grammy’s broadcasting partner) doesn’t stream the awards themselves online, Grammy Live is available as a second screen experience during the event, giving additional insight and tidbits into what’s happening, views from the crowd and access to backstage areas.

As Peter Anton, executive producer of Grammy Live pointed out in our conversation, Grammy Live was actually the first major second screen experience designed around an award show and this was before the iPad!

Of course, now that the iPad is here, it makes sense to extend the Grammy Live experience to other devices. In addition to viewing the experience at Grammy.com, users can also interact with the experience in the Grammy Live app for iOS [iTunes link].

This year, Greene told us, the Recording Academy worked hard to make the Grammy Live app a perfect extension of the website itself. CBS was also heavily involved this year, both in helping craft the app and in giving Grammy Live official on-air callouts and integration.

Not only does the Grammy Live app give users access to the photos, videos and articles available at Grammy.com, it also features Grammy trivia, the ability to guess who will win at the 54th Grammy Awards and the ability to listen to a streaming radio station of Grammy nominees. One of my favorite features of the app is that it also includes a database of past winners, as well as nominees for the 2012 awards. During the show on Feb. 12, those listings will be updated in real time.

The app also lets users browse tweets from various Grammy accounts and hashtags, and of course, access the full Grammy Awards experience before and during the show itself. The app is optimized for iPhone and iPad, and is one of the best apps we’ve seen for an awards show.

The Campaign: We Are Music


For the fifth consecutive year, the Recording Academy teamed up with TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles for the awards show campaign. The team created a robust campaign with print, outdoor, digital, mobile and television components centered around the theme of “We Are Music.”

The genesis of the campaign was formed around the emotions and social experiences that music brings out in us all. The agency TBWA\Chiat\Day wanted to capture the way music moves us as humans and wanted a way to help visualize that emotive experience.

TBWA\Chiat\Day always likes to push the technical boundaries in the digital aspects of its campaigns, and this year was no different. The centerpiece is a microsite that lives at Wearemusic.grammy.com. This site was developed using cutting-edge web technologies (in this case, Flash 11 Stage 3D) to create robust real-time 3D visualizations that are modified based on what music is playing in the background.

Users can select their own mix of songs (powered using Rdio‘s library API) and add in their own photographs to create their own unique visualizations. Users can then share these visualizations with others using Facebook or Twitter. The effect is insanely cool and I encourage you all to visit the site and see it for yourself.

Creating a robust and cutting-edge desktop experience was important, but the agency also wanted to have a powerful mobile component. Enter the We Are Music iPhone app [iTunes link]. This app helps bring the visualized experience to mobile devices.

In the mobile app, a user’s own music library is used to power the visualizations. Users can also provide their own photos or take one within the app. The app then creates customized experiences based on the music, and also uses the camera flash on the iPhone 4 and 4S to create special pulsing experiences (you can shut this off if you don’t like it). Up to 15 users on the same WiFi or Bluetooth network can even share their experiences with one another.


It’s a super cool app and again, it’s cutting edge. The technology team relied on some of the newest features in iOS 5 to take advantage of these tools. What I like about this app as with the Music Mapper from the 53rd Grammy Awards, is that the app and microsite can still be enticing and fun even outside the context of the awards show.

The TV spots TBWA/Chiat/Day crafted around the campaign have already made the rounds on YouTube. The Grammy artists profiled in this campaign include Adele, Foo Fighters and Bon Iver. All the spots have style, but the ad with Skrillex is notable because they outfitted the artist in a motion-capture suit to get the liquid movement effect.