Andi is one of my oldest blog friends and probably the one with whom I interact the most frequently. On top of being an avid social media rock star and power user, a diligent blogger, a fellow globetrotter, a great photographer, and a fantastic friend and cheerleader, she also has a really cool career—one that is by no means easy, I might add. Awhile back, I asked her to give us a peek into her day job as social media manager of Dolby Laboratories during her busiest time of the year, awards season. Here, she gives the real scoop on what goes on behind the scenes at the GRAMMY Awards.
Lights. Camera. Action. Red carpets. Award shows. Movie and TV show premieres.
Sounds exciting … right?
Not always. For one, I am usually on this side of the red carpet:
But there are some events that are a little more fun and very special, ones that I look forward to every year, and for me, that’s the GRAMMYs.
Now don’t get me wrong. You know those 40 million viewers watching it on their TV’s Sunday night? I am right there with them!
But I do get to work the rehearsals, which, while exhausting, is a unique experience. I thought you might like to see what my most recent GRAMMYs experience was like.
7am. Wake up in my hotel room. Today is actually a little luxurious as I usually wake up at 6 for work. I immediately check my email accounts (work, blog and personal); I hop onto Twitter to see what RTs have come through during the night and see what people are up to on Facebook and Instagram. I stop myself before getting sucked into Pinterest as I have to get ready for work!
8am. Conference call with a partner whose tool I am using for social media reporting for the upcoming Oscars. I work for Dolby Laboratories who purchased the naming rights for the former Kodak Theatre. Although we’ve already had the grand opening of the theatre and first movie premiere, it’s our first Oscars so we are very excited.
9am. Meet my PR colleague, grab coffee and a slice of banana bread (oh how I wish I had eaten more as this would be our only food until 4pm, a fact I did not know at the time!) and walk the 8 blocks from the hotel to the Staples Center.
It’s February in Los Angeles, so you never quite know what the weather is going to be like. My first GRAMMYs it was super cold. Last year it was really warm. Today it is overcast and just as we arrive it begins to rain.
The Staples Center looks like this:
9:30am. Meet our local videographer for the day. Run him through the day’s schedule and set expectations on how things will flow.
9:50am. Meet the reporter from a large publication who is going to tag along with us for the first part of our morning to capture a story for their online site.
10am. Head into the mixing area where the sound mixers do their magic. It’s a tight-knit group of very talented professionals who have been working the show for years and years (and have their own GRAMMYs to prove it).
The rain is kind of a bummer and forces everyone to be in a really confined area when it comes to interacting and interviewing the team.
10:30am. Catch our first interview in Mixing Truck B. The trucks that are used for mixing the GRAMMYs are two exact replicas of each other. While one of the two mixers are mixing one act rehearsing on stage, the other truck has the previous act’s manager, mixer or even the artists themselves in the other truck working through their set to see how they feel about the mix.
They cycle through doing this during the whole rehearsals. This keeps them quite busy but they are incredibly accommodating when it comes to interviews and speaking to groups of visitors.
11:30am. We wait. I am actually pretty surprised we captured this much content in our first 90 minutes. In the past years, I have spent far more time on pause, trying to catch the crew when they are available.
As I wait there under the little tent running between the two trucks avoiding the rain, I learn that I am standing next to someone from the Black Keys currently in conversation with one of the mixing engineers. Only problem is, I don’t know who the Black Keys are!
This is not the first time this has happened to me, or something like it! Last year as I was standing around waiting, I was introduced to an elderly man and we began a casual conversation about how warm it was for February. He turned out to be Paul McCartney’s mixer! He has been working with Paul–and the Beatles–for forever; these guys really are regular people who talk about the weather!
12pm. Our first foray into the actual Staples Center. We get our credentials (something I always geek out on) and head in. Our first stop is the Denali trucks where the video and audio come together for the show’s broadcast to nearly 40 million viewers.
12:30pm. We attempt to head into the bowl to interview the front-of-house team responsible for the in-house event (remember there are twenty thousand people watching the show in the arena as well). Security informs us that the Black Keys have requested the house to be cleared for their rehearsals. We have to come back.
12:35pm. We head into the “meat” of the backstage area. Walking up the ramps where the risers are all staged. Each riser contains pieces of the artists set. We pass by risers for Rhiannon, the Black Keys, Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake. Not quite as exciting as seeing part of Bruno Mars set last year, but here is part of Justin Timberlake’s set:
We then make our way to the microphone area. There are 700 microphones used during the show with 56 wireless mics, each one having its own unique frequency. A lot of artists bring their own so they have to be worked into the grid to ensure no interference with other mics or outside frequencies. You wouldn’t want to hear “one-adam-12, we’ve got a possible 213…” during Taylor Swift’s performance–I know Kristin wouldn’t!
They are all kept in baking pans that quiet the potential interference (afterwards they bake bread…no sorry, kidding).
I have no desire to be a star. I can’t sing or act. I am not a comedian. But it is hard not to feel something when you start walking up the stairs that lead you to the stage. I have only seen it like this and I am awestruck, I cannot imagine it when there are 20,000 people in the audience!
This one is on the left as you head to the stage:
2:35pm. I grumble to myself that the only part of the actual rehearsal I get to see (Miranda) and it’s an act I saw two years ago.
2:36pm. Kick myself for being an ass. It’s not every day that you get to be at the GRAMMYs rehearsals!
2:45pm. Walk back to the Denali truck area to capture broadcast engineer interviews we missed earlier.
3:15pm. While visiting other parts of the backstage area, a group of people crossed our path, I saw a face I recognized but couldn’t place it. I was so focused on figuring out who she was that I came face-to-very-large-chest with LL Cool J! The reason I recognized the woman was it was his manager, someone I met three times in 2012 while working on various projects with LL. How embarrassing!
This was the same exact spot where Katy Perry brushed my elbow as she passed in 2010. Who’s next for 2014?
3:30pm. We learn the front-of-house won’t be able to meet with us, but they have a slot in the morning at 10am. My colleague is going to stay and the videographer is game. We agree that we have captured what we can for the day and head back to the hotel.
4:00pm. Eat. After being on my feet all day long carrying my camera bag with lots of lenses I am aching and STARVING! My colleague and I grab a meal and discuss our footage and how we will disseminate in on the various channels.
4:30pm. I jump in a cab and head to the airport. I get a call that the reporter needs some mixing truck photos ASAP. Have you ever tried to edit your photos in a moving cab in full LA traffic (lots of starts and screeching stops)? Fun times I tell ya.
5:30pm. Arrive at airport. Learn my flight is delayed. Scramble to get on an earlier flight all while trying to connect to the Wi-Fi so I can email photos for the reporter.
5:45pm. I made the flight! Board the plane. Can’t connect to the airport Wi-Fi anymore.
6:05pm. We’ve reached 10,000 feet, no peanuts for me. I latch onto the plane’s Wi-Fi, upload the files to email and poof, they are on their way!
6:10pm. Workday complete, I pull out my iPad to watch the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries (don’t judge!).
7:05pm. Land. Drive home. Learn that I will be on a plane again in less than 24 hours—this time heading to Utah.
Nope. I’d say my life is definitely not boring!