Thanks to what some industry insiders call Los Angeles’ shortsightedness, the 36th annual Grammy Awards will be held tonight in the more accommodating environs of Radio City Music Hall, making Rockefeller Center ground zero for the music industry.
The ceremonies at Radio City Music Hall, to be telecast from 8-11 p.m. on CBS , return to the Big Apple following infighting last year among members of the L.A. City Council over whether ornot to charge event organizers, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, for city services such as security, and revoke their special event status.
Led by Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, the event was charged $ 24,000 for services, an amount later negotiated down to $ 7,000. The move signaled to many in the industry that future Grammy Awards would be held in New York, where it is more widely supported by both corporate and industry interests.
“New York comes up with all the funding,” said Mike Greene, president of NARAS. “Our MusicCares program and the events such as Grammy in the Schools are supported. And we get a better response from the corporations located here. They all understand the importance of everything we do. It’s the reason L.A. is losing film and production work — it’s not a friendly place anymore.”
Though last year’s debacle was under the regime of former Mayor Tom Bradley, Greene said Mayer Richard Riordan has given little indication that it will be different in 1995. “(Riordan) has said we will sit down very soon and have a nice chat,” Greene said. “But he still has a city council that has a myopic view of these kinds of events. We bring in $ 40 million for the city and they want to charge us a $ 60,000 fee. The council can’t see the forest for the trees.”
While Greene is out lobbying for his org’s cause, labels have put forth a full-court press of their own since the nominations were announced, sending out numerous missives touting their respective nominees.
Albums by Grammy winners have traditionally experienced a dramatic rise in sales following the televised ceremony, and it appears label marketeers have stepped up their campaigns to reach both consumers and Grammy voters.
But NARAS, as a rule, frowns on labels’ using tombstone ads, the kind typically used by the major studios in the “for your consideration” format heralding their Oscar or Emmy nominees.
“We won’t allow those ads, and our voting members know it,” Greene said. “We’ve worked hard over the past five years to be a credible organization. Those ads would create an unlevel playing field for the artists who don’t have the backing to advertise.”
In addition to the barrage of press releases sent out by record labels and artist publicists to announce their nomination tally, other labels are using more conventional promotional avenues.
A&M has trumpeted Sting’s six nominations using a string of TV commercials to market his “Ten Summoner’s Tales” disc, and has placed stickers that mention the Grammy nods on new shipments to retailers.
Arista has created an overall Grammy campaign, using TV and print ads to promote its list of nominees, while several labels, Sony and Warner Bros. among them, have created Grammy music samplers for distribution to radio and retail.
But whatever impact the promotional items will have on the voters, the telecast is nonetheless likely to be a coronation of adult contemporary music with an occasional wild card thrown in to keep it interesting.
Hosted by Garry Shandling, the three-hour telecast will sport performances by Bruce Springsteen, who will open the show, and Sting, who will close it.