LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - If the organisers of the music industry's biggest awards show have their way, the Grammys will become a brand that represents musical achievement year-round.
In the last three years, the Recording Academy in the United States has revamped its Grammy sponsorship strategy, moving from one-year financial commitments to long-term deals with companies that have music-focused marketing efforts, says Evan Greene, the group's chief marketing officer. This year, for the first time, the Hard Rock Cafe chain will host telecast viewing parties for local academy chapter members, as well as ticket winners from the general public, in 10 U.S. cities: New York; Chicago; Philadelphia; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Memphis; Nashville; Atlanta; San Francisco; and Hollywood, Fla. Parties in he first five markets will feature performances by signed developing artists.
The Hard Rock relationship covers local academy events throughout the year, pre-Grammys orientation sessions for nominees and managers, and an online auction to benefit the Grammy-related charities. The partnership will be boosted by stepped-up support from Grammy sponsors Verizon and Westwood One, along with new partner USA Today.
USA Today will supply regional advertising for the telecast parties as well as a sweepstakes to attend the Grammys. Hard Rock party guests can check out high-definition and broadband products by Verizon, which sponsors the academy's SoundCheck artist seminars throughout the year.
For the first time, awards not presented during the live show -- i.e. the bulk of the categories -- will be broadcast by XM Satellite Radio on its returning Grammy Radio channel. Westwood One will run radio promos for the Hard Rock viewing parties as well as audio versions of the My Grammy print campaign.
The ads, which run about once per month in People magazine, feature such Grammy winners as Coldplay and Nelly Furtado discussing what the award means to them on a personal level.
Artists have been involved in another recent partnership as well: From February to December 2006, the Hilton Harmony tour sent a grand piano to its hotels around the country, collecting celebrity autographs and hosting music classes for children. Participating schools each received a $1,000 donation to their music program, and each signature sent $1,000 to the Grammy Foundation for music education.
"By doing what we're doing, we expand our reach beyond that one big night of the year and create more of an opportunity to develop a deeper connection with consumers," Greene says.
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