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Working the Red Carpet at The Grammys ~ Guest Post by Marissa Zaenger

Posted in A Day in the Life | No Comments »

Remember the former intern Marissa Zaenger who wrote a kick ass guest blog last year during the release of Musician’s Roadmap to Facebook and Twitter?? Well, she done graduated from Belmont University with her Music Biz degree, and she’s taking on the world! During her most recent adventure, Marissa worked the red carpet during the recent Grammy Music Awards. I asked her to blog about her experience, and she did! I am so proud of her!

Marissa Z at The Grammys 250px
Marissa Z at Grammys 2012

Some artists may have prepared themselves for the Grammys on Sunday with an early morning workout, a choice between a few dazzling outfits, perhaps a satisfying brunch on a hotel balcony. They likely endured a whirlwind preparation for all of the photos, press, and performances that they were about to face.

Well, I didn’t do any of those things. And neither did anyone else working the red carpet that day. (Okay, maybe some people worked out, but probably not the ones that had been there since 7am. Unless they’re weird.)

As the artists planned their arrivals at the front of the carpet for the biggest night of the music biz, I hustled down the back end, dressed completely in black (as was the protocol) and flashing my credential at various security guards. My role for the day was to serve as an escort to any artists I got paired with, and help them navigate the congested red carpet lined with every major TV, radio, and internet outlet imaginable. I’d basically help the publicists secure interviews. After they were satisfied, I had to drop the artists off at the photo area at the end. Not too hard, right?

I was pretty confident that I had it in the bag, since this was my second time doing the escort job with Rogers and Cowan, the PR firm responsible for the event. I met up with the other escorts in the holding area near the front of the carpet at around 11am, and coolly waited for the carpet to officially open so I could get my groove on.

The routine goes like this: you wait in line patiently, then make your way to the artist when it’s your turn to get paired up. You introduce yourself, ask their name, and check to see if the publicist has any specific outlets in mind that they’d like to hit. You take them down the line and ask the outlet reps if they’d like to interview your artist. It can be a bit of a process, so you try to be pleasant and make small talk. When they go on camera, you hit up other outlets to get whatever you can. After it’s all said and done, you take the artist to the photo area with the white background, mass of photographers, and screaming fans. You smile and say that it was a pleasure to walk them. If they’re nominated, you should probably wish them good luck.Or something. Basically, you try to be as professional and kind as possible. And then, you go out the back and head around to the front. Rinse and repeat.

No, you don’t get to pick who you walk with, sadly. Sometimes starstruck escorts (we’re usually young people, give us a break) try to make deals so they can get who they want. But I’ve known a couple of girls who ended up getting to escort some of their favorite stars. It could work out!

You know how they say famous people like showing up late? It’s definitely true. The carpet is open from noon-4:15, and most of the big names don’t start coming until at least 3:30. As 3pm approaches, we escorts are reminded that it’s about to get crazy, which means that we need to be lined up and ready for action as the stars pour in. And it did start getting a little wild – Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Fergie, and Rihanna probably arrived within the same 20-minute time frame. At that point in the day, the carpet was so full of people that I was probably more concentrated on not stepping on Katy Perry’s dress train than anything!

I think the coolest artist I escorted was the Diplo/Skrillex/A-Trak combo. They’re taking the whole “EDM” (electronic dance music) movement to a new level, and they’re championing a whole new model of DIY that’s got the labels talking. They’re pretty powerful DJs, but they’re also nice, down-to-earth guys. Skrillex is a hugger, FYI. All in all, they got a ton of interviews, Skrillex won 3 Grammys, and I unintentionally scored a free Billboard mag (which they were on the cover of). Winning!

You couldn’t really tell a difference in mood on the carpet in regards to Whitney’s death, but most artists that did interviews were asked about it at one point or another. Even the ones that probably never met her, haha — like this video:

(hint: I’m in that video on the right hand side for a little bit!)

When the carpet closed, the escorts were pretty much free to go. I wished that it meant I could get in free to see the show, but alas, this was not the case. (Shouldn’t it be, though? I mean, come on. I was on my feet for like, 5 hours!) I did manage to sneak in last time, but this time around, I decided I’d rather head back to my friend’s apartment, wind down, and just read up on it in the morning. At least I got to keep the badge!

So you might be thinking: why do this if you don’t get anything back? Good question. But if you think about it, getting anywhere in the work world is kind of like that. You do get stuff back..just not right away. If you’re an aspiring musician, it’s especially so. How many times do you have to give away your song for free before enough people have listened to it and want to buy more? If you’re signed, how many albums do you have to sell before you’re allowed to make a dime? Answer: quite a lot, actually.

I like to volunteer at events in the hopes that I can meet cool people and show them that I’m willing to work. Get my face out there, ya know? Anything helps! People need to trust you before they hire you. And your fans need to trust you before they give you their money. It’s pretty much the same deal. So if you’re like me, trying to get somewhere in this crazy industry, whether as an artist or a “suit,” get out there and work for free! If all else least you get a few fun stories and a rad collection of badges. To show off, obviously.

Marissa Zaenger is a recent Music Industry graduate of Belmont University, who amazes me regularly with her skills. She has great written and communication skills, and is a joy to work with. Follow Marissa at @MarissaMagic Better yet, hire her!