The Grammys–known as “music’s biggest night”–are just around the corner, as the ceremony is slated to air live on Sunday, February 5. For fans and viewers at home, that means an evening of amazing performances and emotional speeches is coming up, but for those in the industry, it means something else: parties.
There are many events throughout Grammy week that those in the music business clamor to find a way into, with Spotify’s annual Best New Artist party being among the “hottest tickets” available. Of course, it’s invite-only, and with good reason, as the lineup is set to be incredible.
2023 marks the sixth year in a row Spotify has conducted its annual Best New Artist campaign, with the event being the crown jewel of the program (which has only been stopped by Covid-19, though that didn’t affect the rest of the effort). The streaming giant hasn’t yet revealed this year’s lineup, but chances are most if not all of the 10 talents up for the Best New Artist Grammy–Anitta, Omar Apollo, Domi and JD Beck, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Muni Long, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle, and Wet Leg–will be there.
Spotify’s Best New Artist party has changed significantly throughout its six years, and it is growing all the time, both in scope and in the way the people talk about it. Back in 2020–the last time the company was able to host a massive event–all eight nominees vying for the Grammy showed up and performed. That was huge in terms of booking and PR, but it also meant that those in charge of logistics had to rethink the literal construction of the space.
“To accommodate the growing category, we introduced a turntable stage in 2020,” explained Sarah Patellos, Spotify’s Head of Creative Development, Music Strategy during a call as the company finished planning the Best New Artist party. “We went from being able to pop up a couple of lo-fi performances into…producing essentially a concert within an industry party.”
While Grammy nominations aren’t shared until late in the year–the list of possible winners at the 2023 ceremony was unveiled November 15, 2022–Spotify must begin planning the party long before then. Patellos revealed that it all begins in August, saying “if we haven’t started by then, we’re behind.” The whole process involves countless people at Spotify across at least half a dozen teams in what she referred to as a “Herculean effort.”
Finding a space and thinking of ways to make the party even more spectacular than in the past is certainly difficult, but one of the hardest parts of making this event a reality is booking the talent. While the vast majority of artists seem to want to be included, that doesn’t make it an easy job.
Some musicians are predicted to be nominated for the Best New Artist trophy, so their schedules are usually prepared for Grammy week…but with 10 slots now available, there are always some surprises, and that makes it very difficult to get all of them in one place at one time. “We’ve pulled folks off of tour, we’ve pulled favors, we’ve tried to make this work,” Patellos shared. Thankfully, while logistics can be hard, everyone wants to be invited. “Because we’ve been so consistent in celebrating this category,” she answered, “it’s come to be expected and anticipated for the nominees. As soon as they’re granted the nomination, we typically hear from them.”
The event is certainly the most thrilling part of Spotify’s Best New Artist campaign, but it’s just one piece of the whole project. The musical behemoth also invests in digital, print, and social marketing, putting the nominated musicians front and center. They celebrate them both as a collective and as individuals, allowing each one to shine with their own accomplishments and unique voice.
A campaign that focused on a Grammy category with more instantly recognizable figures, such as Record of the Year or Album of the Year–artists like Adele, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, and Beyoncé are all included this time around–might immediately appear to make more sense on a marketing and PR front, but that be much more difficult and expensive. Also, the streamer has other motives for highlighting the Best New Artist nominees.
“Rather than celebrating artists who are more established, we really wrap ourselves around this category,” Patellos admitted when asked why Best New Artist was chosen as the focus. “Spotify prides itself on our position in music discovery and celebrating artists at all stages of their careers,” she continued, eventually adding, “We’ve always been a champion of supporting emerging talent.”
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