One of the strangest things in all of popular culture these days is this new reputation that the Grammys has as the go-to social-media-centric trophy show of all social-media-centric trophy shows. As a music nerd, I can’t quite figure out why this effort to re-brand the thing has actually … worked. Do we have LL Cool J to thank for that? The weird collaborations? The abundance of live performances (though, to be fair, the show has never really been particularly thin on live music, anyway)? The influence from television’s most-watched network?
It’s fascinating, really. The night now goes hand-in-hand with hashtags and handles, live tweets and updated statuses. Everybody — everybody — has an opinion on music, this we already knew. What we didn’t know, however, was that so many people were still this interested in seeing how Bruno Mars and Sting sound when put together. I mean, come on. Concert ticket sales are down. Album numbers are a joke. And rock stars don’t exist anymore. How this combines for such an interactive and communal experience in technology and popularity is beyond logical comprehension.
That said … well, the Grammys happened last night. And much like last year, the ceremony generated a gang of social media traffic. Let’s turn to Wesley Lowery at The Los Angeles Times …
“Spikes in Twitter traffic took place during Rihanna’s solo performance (114,800 tweets per minute), Prince’s announcement of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ as record of the year (109,400 tweets per minute) and Fun.’s triumph in the hotly contested best new artist category (100,600 tweets per minute),” he wrote earlier today. “Rihanna took the prize of most-talked-about-celebrity on Twitter, with more than 1.6 million tweets being sent mentioning her: no doubt, with many discussing her dress, her performance and her Grammy win for short form music video.”
Oh, but how dare we ignore the most popular moment of the night?! That victory goes to Jay-Z’s laugh-out-loud response to The Dream’s head-warmer, leaning in at the very end of an acceptance speech for the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration trophy he shared with the producer and Frank Ocean, saying in the quintessential, Jay-Z swag-heavy tone, “I want to thank the swap meet for his hat.” Ha!
Hey, scoff all you want (at both the joke and the fact that I just typed the word “swag” for the first time in my life), but the moment landed 116,400 tweets per minute.
So … how does the show do it? How does the ceremony cripple Twitter feeds around the world, and how does it inspire thousands upon thousands of snarky writers to immediately take to their place of publication to rant about what worked, what didn’t and how annoying Taylor Swift has become? CNet’s Sree Sreenivasan offered up seven things other awards shows should learn from the Grammys Monday morning. No. 1 seems to be the most astute observation …
“The Grammys did what I say to anyone trying to promote their use of social media: be semi-obnoxious, telling people what your hashtags and handles are, and what platforms you are on,” he wrote. “You can’t be shy about it. You need to, more than once, tell them how and where to follow you. For a conference, be sure to print the hashtags and handles on the official program and even the invitation, if possible.”
Indeed. If you want a presence online, and you want to generate web traffic, you need to fully own the desire. Smack people over the head with it until you finally start seeing some reaction. It took the Grammys a few years to become such a lightning rod for clicks, but now that it’s become synonymous with interactive reaction, it seems miles ahead of its awards show contemporaries (related: Can you even name three Emmy winners from a few months ago? Case. Rested.).
Maybe even more noteworthy is how much artists owe to the world of social media these days, anyway. You can’t sell music if you don’t have an online presence anymore. Whether it’s live YouTube videos, an active Twitter feed or a Tumblr account to post photos from tour stops, you have to be willing to make the creative process more personable in today’s world if you want to be a successful working musician. The bad news? Nobody buys your music. The good news? You can be an awful indie band from Frederick, Maryland, and still be beloved in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Modern day music: connecting one bad bass player with another groupie, one Like at a time.
The website activ8social created a nifty graphic focusing on how social the Grammy Awards ceremony is these days in the walk-up to Sunday night’s gala. Among the stats Jessie Rubin found …
– For those nominated for Record of the Year, Taylor Swift has the largest fanbase on Facebook (39M) with The Black Keys coming in a “close” second (2.7M).
– For Song of the Year, Carly Rae Jepsen takes home the prize for most views on her infectious song, “Call Me Maybe” (3.9M).
– Out of all nominated artists, Taylor Swift is queen bee with the most subscribers to her channel on YouTube (973,204).
Oh, but how many subscribers did Ms. Swizzle lose after that bizarre performance of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” I ask you? How. Many. Did. She. Lose?
And so it goes. Next up is Oscar in all his golden, naked glory. And yes, I will be prepared to single-handedly break all Tweets-per-minute records after “The Master” walks away from Sunday night with no awards under its gloriously disturbing belt. Awards season: The most wonderful time of the year.