Call it the Grammy nominations treasure hunt.
CBS and the Recording Academy are hatching a highly unconventional plan to turn the Dec. 5 Grammy nominations announcement into a day-long media stunt. The details are still being hammered out, but the goal is to unveil noms in various categories bit by bit throughout the day on a range of CBS programs and digital platforms, culminating with the announcement of album of the year nominees in the hourlong “A Very Grammy Christmas” primetime special that night.
“Throughout the day fans will get little kernels of Grammy nominations news on different platforms,” Jack Sussman, CBS’ exec VP of specials, music and live events, told Variety. “We’ll be reaching out to fans all day to give them information that will hopefully lead them to the special at 9 o’clock that night.”
The Recording Academy confirmed that the full list of nominees other than the album of the year nominees will be released through traditional media channels early in the morning on Dec. 5.
The Recording Academy and CBS already broke with kudocast tradition in 2008 when they scrapped the early-morning nominations announcement in favor of a live primetime special featuring musical performances.
“The Grammy Nominations Concert Live” special aired live in East Coast markets at 10 p.m., which meant a less-than-ideal 7 p.m. airing on the West Coast. Given the modest overall ratings for the special and logistical challenges of coordinating the live announcement, the Recording Acad and CBS execs decided to try a different approach this year to capitalize on the holiday timing of the news.
Nothing is set in stone yet, but the thinking is that high-profile Grammy categories will be sprinkled into CBS shows on Dec. 5 including “CBS This Morning,” “The Talk,” “Entertainment Tonight” along with a host of digital and social media platforms. Prominent artists will likely be enlisted for appearances to disclose the nominees.
The effort to squeeze more media attention and viewer engagement out of the nominations announcement underscores the high degree of collaboration between CBS and the Recording Academy on all things Grammy. CBS pays the Recording Acad more than $20 million a year to carry the Grammycast, and it has every incentive to make the most out of that investment, even if some in the music biz are critical of the focus on making the Grammys a TV event first and foremost. The network’s current deal for Grammys runs through 2021.
The “Grammy Christmas” special will be taped Nov. 18 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. It will air at 9 p.m. nationally (8 p.m. in Mountain and Central time zones).
Ariana Grande, Tim McGraw, Maroon 5 and Pharrell Williams are among the artists set to perform on the special, with a few more acts to come. The special will blend musical performances with a conversation among the artists talking about their lives and how they made it in the music biz.
“Ultimately what people want to connect with is real stories and great music,” Sussman said. “We want to kick off Grammy season with an event that lets fans hear music and hear heartfelt, engaging stories.”
The plan is that after the musical numbers are taped at the Shrine, the artists will sit together on the stage and swap stories for the conversation portion of the special. Ken Ehrlich, a Grammy kudocast vet, is exec producing for AEG Ehrlich Ventures.
The Feb. 8 Grammycast has a high bar to reach ratings-wise after this year’s telecast grabbed nearly 29 million viewers.
CORRECTION: The Recording Academy confirms that a list of 82 of the 83 Grammy Awards categories will be released early on Dec. 5, with only the album of the year nominees held back until the end of the primetime special.