The Grammy Awards Website Through Time
The National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences or NARAS is the organization responsible for holding the Grammy Awards. The organization began holding the award ceremony in 1959 and began televising it later that year during the 2nd ever Grammy Awards. The history of the award’s web presence is representative of trends of information distribution and cultural focus through the age of the internet. The earliest capture of the NARAS website available is from 1996, at this time the website was focused more on the recording academy than it was on the Grammy Awards.
The services offered on the NARAS website at the time of its inception is geared towards members of the Academy, with access to a newsletter, member services, and information oorganized by chapter. The webpage, while available for public use, was not geared towards inviting the public in, but as a gathering point for NARAS members. Another interesting aspect of the first website iteration is the complete lack of space and information dedicated to the Grammy Awards themselves, some articles in the news section referenced the awards, but that is the furthest the website goes as far as the Grammy Awards goes.
It wasn’t until 1998 that the website began to closely resemble what it is now. In 1997 NARAS linked a webpage dedicated to the winners of the Grammy Awards, but the list was the extent of the information offered on the page. In the following year it seems that the recording academy caught on to the fact that their webpage could be a key place for people to visit for all things Grammy.
The homepage became largely dedicated to the Grammy Awards, a shift from 1996, and featured far more than just a winner’s list. The page now included links to interviews and backstage photo galleries, all of which fed the growing need for information as people became more comfortable with the internet. In less than two years the NARAS webpage went from a place for academy members to keep tabs on the organization, to a place where anyone watching the Grammys could go to see more from their favorite artists. This information heavy model, which gives all webpage visitors unrestricted access to behind-the-scenes goings on is the same model used by the webpage now using more streamlined graphics.
The 2016 version of the Grammys site is much more representative of the modern day thirst for information. With pages dedicated to red carpet photos, behind the scenes photos, videos clips, interviews, polls, news articles, and a searchable database of all past Grammy winners the webpage is brimming with information in almost any media format. A large emphasis is put on the red carpet photos and video clips of performances given at the award show which contrasts the emphasis on behind-the-scenes photos the website had in the 90s. To me this shift reads as an emphasis on the Grammys as a night of Hollywood Glamour, where the real draw is not what lies behind the curtain, but the spectacle itself.
The metamorphosis that the NARAS webpage underwent is an interesting one, it is indicative of what the internet, as a whole, was being used for at the time. The first iteration of the page was made for professionals in the industry, academy members who wanted to check updates on their chapter. And as the internet became more accessible for entertainment purposes the website evolved into a database for Grammy and music industry related information. Through the mid 90’s up until now the NARAS webpage has gone through a lot of changes, with emphasis shifting from the insider community of the academy itself to focus on the award show itself and capitalizing on celebrity spectacle.
“Grammy.com.” GRAMMY.com. Accessed October 8, 2021. https://www.grammy.com/.
“History of the Grammy Awards.” Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, June 23, 2021. https://www.musicianshalloffame.com/history-of-the-grammy-awards/.
Wayback Machine. Accessed October 8, 2021. http://web.archive.org/web/20160326031337/http://www.grammy.com:80/.