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Bulking up the bash

Post-telecast party to include first Icon award

Taking a cue from the Oscars and the Governors Ball, this year’s post-Grammy bash is being moved to the Convention Center from the Biltmore Hotel to accommodate an extra 2,500 guests.

“During the Grammy week there is unprecedented unity among the people in this competitive industry,” say National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences prexy Neil Portnow. “Having been a label executive and having been to all of these events, I sort of felt that by retreating to individual celebrations we were missing an opportunity for a sense of shared community. I look at other academies, like the Motion Picture Academy, and the key executives at those events wouldn’t dream of doing anything after” the ceremony except going to the offical bash.

Previous Biltmore get-togethers, with a guest list limited to 4,500 people, have been dominated by sponsors, nominees and Academy members. Labels have had their own private bashes, ranging from lavish setups for thousands to sit-down dinners for a handful of key execs and artists.

After-party tickets were previously sold only as part of the two highest-priced Grammy packages. This year, after-party tickets are being sold a la carte to Grammy ticket holders.

Timing also plays into Portnow’s decision to attempt to expand the after-party. “Maybe having one party is naive but the reality is that economics are tough right now and most folks (i.e., record labels) don’t have the resources for lavish events,” he says.

To attract more people, the Academy will give out the first Industry Icon award at the party, toasting Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.

Ertegun, 81, founded Atlantic Records with his brother Neushi in 1947 as an R&B label. In the 1950s, they launched the careers of Ruth Brown, the Coasters, the Drifters, Ray Charles, Lavern Baker and other R&B icons.

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