A new wave of Grammy campaigns: 3 ways the COVID-19 pandemic could affect the race

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s gotten harder and harder for artists to get out there and promote their work for awards consideration. With the 63rd Grammy Awards coming up January 31, 2021, many artists have had to drop previously used campaigning strategies. Nonetheless, labels and management teams are doing their best to push their artists for Grammy consideration, especially during the voting period (which this year takes place from September 30 to October 12). Here are three ways those approaches are changing.

1. Limited resources

With most TV shows being shot from home or in smaller-than-average studios, interviews and live performances are harder to book. Despite this, some artists have found ways to promote their work by performing on shows, like Dua Lipa on James Corden‘s “The Late Late Show,” Chloe x Halle on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and BTS on Jimmy Fallon‘s “Tonight Show.” Besides talk shows, other common venues for Grammy campaigns include “Saturday Night Live” and NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts.”

On top of this, FYC events hosted for voters will either cease for the year or take place with fewer voters than usual. This means, for the most part, artists will have less direct contact with voting bodies, and perhaps will have to work harder on getting their music to academy members.

2. Creativity

The pandemic has been an incentive for campaign teams to be more creative. FYC packages mailed to voters are being used extensively, and we’ve seen a bigger focus on media like magazines and social platforms, including Rolling Stone’s new Grammy preview, and Billboard’s yearly Grammy issue.

Another key resource for outreach has been YouTube, as the platform is free to use and has tremendous reach. Artists like Phoebe Bridgers have done multiple interviews and digital concerts, like the New York Times’s “Diary of a Song” and KEXP’s virtual concert series.

Since most interviews and performances during quarantine are pre-recorded, artists have the opportunity to be more creatively ambitious and incorporate elements that they wouldn’t be able to live. A good example were the BET Awards which, despite being completely virtual, gave us some amazing performances, most notably DaBaby‘s “Rockstar,” which included references to the current political climate.

3. Focus on the art

Perhaps most importantly, the lack of the usual campaigning avenues puts a greater focus on the art itself. It’s probably inevitable that voters will be a little less persuaded this year by external factors like FYCs and performances, and have a chance to vote more earnestly for their favorite songs and albums. We’ve even seen artists like the critically beloved Fiona Apple ditch (so far) those big campaigns that are common for more mainstream acts.

This tremendously helps less prominent artists who may have more trouble booking big shows or investing in aggressive promotion, as well as those artists who rely on critical esteem and industry support rather than mainstream radio presence or big-budget campaigns.

Regardless of it all, this Grammy season is bound to be very different and exciting to follow, and we can’t wait to see what it has in store for us.

Be sure to make your Grammy predictions so that record executives and top name stars can see how their music is faring in our Grammy odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until nominees are announced. And join in the fierce debate over the 2021 Grammys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our music forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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