It's official: The Grammys will return to NYC in 2018


After months of widespread rumors and coy non-confirmations from both city officials and Recording Academy sources, it's now official: the Grammy Awards will return to New York City in 2018 for the first time since 2003, after spending more than a decade in Los Angeles. Next year's main event, which will be its 60th edition, is set to take place on Jan. 28, 2018 at Madison Square Garden, and will once again air on CBS.

Throughout much of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the Grammys essentially rotated back and forth between New York and Los Angeles, before setting up shop long-term at the Staples Center in L.A. beginning in 2004. The effort to bring the event back to NYC in 2018 was the result of a years-long process that began as early as 2014, and kicked into high gear over the past year.

"It had always been something I had thought was of interest to us; it was really all about the details," Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), told Billboard. "We've been in L.A. for many years; we used to bounce back and forth from time to time. With the East Coast being the home for half the membership of the Academy -- certainly there's a very vibrant, vital part of the music industry on the East Coast and in New York -- and given that this is an anniversary year for us, it's a special chance to celebrate."

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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Recording artist Beyonce (R, holding microphone) performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

Recording artist Adele performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

Recording artist Chance the Rapper accepts the Best New Artist artist award onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

Host James Corden speaks onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Bruno Mars performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: James Corden and Jennifer Lopez during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Musician Ed Sheeran and hip hop artist Jay-Z during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

Host James Corden performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Recording artist The Weeknd performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Recording artists Keith Urban (L) and Carrie Underwood perform onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

Recording artist Ed Sheeran performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Blue Ivy Carter and Jay Z during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)

Recording artists Josh Dun (L) and Tyler Joseph of music group Twenty One Pilots accept the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance award for 'Stressed Out' onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

Actor John Travolta speaks onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Recording artist Nick Jonas speaks onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Host James Corden speaks onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

Recording artist Adele performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Maren Morris performs at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. , February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Musicians Peter Martin (L) and Robert Dillon of Third Coast Percussion onstage at the Premiere Ceremony during the 59th GRAMMY Awards at Microsoft Theater on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Rich Polk/WireImage)

Producers Juliette Larthe (L) and Nathan Scherrer accept the Best Music Video award for 'Formation' onstage at the Premiere Ceremony during the 59th GRAMMY Awards at Microsoft Theater on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Rich Polk/WireImage)

Host James Corden onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Singer Jennifer Lopez speaks at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. , February 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Show host James Corden falls down the stairs at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Singer The Weeknd and Daft Punk perform onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: James Corden and Jennifer Lopez during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Recording artist Morris Day performs a tribute to Prince onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Singer Adele and media personality Chrissy Teigen during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Musician Tori Kelly during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Host James Corden speaks onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Bruno Mars performs at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. , February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Recording artist Adele performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Singer Lady Gaga (L) and musician James Hetfield, of Metallica, perform onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Jay Z and Beyonce during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Musician Dave Mustaine (L) and David Ellefson of Megadeth accepts the Best Metal Performance award for 'Dystopia' onstage at the Premiere Ceremony during the 59th GRAMMY Awards at Microsoft Theater on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Actor Katharine McPhee, Alex Pall, and Andrew Taggart speak onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Twenty One Pilots accept the Grammy for Record of the year for "Stressed Out" at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. , February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Recording artists Kelsea Ballerini (L) and Lukas Graham perform onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Recording artist Kelsea Ballerini (3rd L) and Lukas Graham music group members (from L) Morten Ristorp, Magnus Larsson, Lukas Forchhammer, and Mark Falgren perform onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Hip-Hop Artist Jay-Z, daughter Blue Ivy Carter and singer Rihanna during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Singer Rihanna during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Musician Travis Barker (R) with Landon Barker (L) and Alabama Barker during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Recording artists Camila Cabello (L) and Thomas Rhett speak onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Paris Jackson speaks onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Host James Corden helps actor Gina Rodriguez onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Katy Perry performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Recording artists William Bell (L) and Gary Clark Jr. perform onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)
Alicia Keys and Maren Morris perform at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. , February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Beyonce accepts the Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album for "Lemonade" at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. , February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Recording artists Jimi Westbrook, Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild, and Philip Sweet of Little Big Town, Demi Lovato, Andra Day, and Tori Kelly perform onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Songwriters Adele Adkins (L) and Greg Kurstin accept the Song Of The Year award for 'Hello' onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Singer Demi Lovato during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Hip Hop Artist Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)
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According to the Mayor's office, the Grammys are expected to bring $200 million in economic benefits to the city -- $82 million in direct spend and $120 million indirectly -- as well as an additional several hundred million in tourism. As part of the announcement, the Academy worked with Spike Lee and creative agency TBWA\Chiat\Day to create a video, which can be seen below, which a press release calls "a musical tour of the city."

"It is incredibly exciting that Music's Biggest Night will return to the world's greatest city," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement accompanying the announcement. "Playing host to the music industry's marquee awards show is a unique creative, artistic and economic boon to the rich cultural fabric of our city. We welcome the Grammy Awards back to New York City with open arms and we look forward to continuing to partner with a music industry that supports access and empowerment in the arts."

Negotiations to return to New York began in earnest last February, shortly after the appointment of Julie Menin as commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, a move which coincided with that office's extension beyond film and television and into music. But they were initially held up due to cost; earlier this year, Billboard reported that the additional production, labor and venue expenses involved in shifting from L.A. to New York would add up to $6.5 million, a cost prohibitive for the Academy, which Portnow says is "diligent, prudent and frugal about our expenses."

Menin and her department put together a host committee, co-chaired by herself and Accenture managing director of media and entertainment for North America Lynn McMahon, that included adidas, Downtown Music Publishing/New York Is Music, Rudin Management company and local unions, in order to help. "We were able to help defray the cost, by forming the host committee; labor unions were extremely helpful in terms of being supportive with their work that they do at the Garden; and the city was able to bring in some in-kind advertising and other support," Menin told Billboard. "So we feel we were able to put together a strong package to help defray and fund the differential."

But that was just one piece of the puzzle, Portnow -- a native New Yorker whose first Grammy Awards after being named president was the last New York edition in 2003 -- explained. "You can't just go to a city and do a Grammy show, you have to have a venue that can accommodate it," he said. "And we're in a place now where because of the size of the show and the needs that we have, there aren't a whole lot of options in New York, period."

That led the Academy back to Madison Square Garden, which has hosted the Grammys twice, in 2003 and 1997. "With what's involved, you really have to find a window that works and you have to plan for that and have all the discussions," Portnow said. "We're not coming in on Friday night and hanging the rigging, rehearsing on Saturday and producing on Sunday. There's at least a 10-day period that we need the venue for... And slowly but surely this got put together."

As to how the Grammys plan to leverage New York's resources, history and location, Portnow said that those details are still being finalized, but that the Academy is looking forward to taking a fresh approach. "On a business and a brand and an awareness level, it's always good when you can mix things up a little bit," he said. "I think when things become predictable, that's the time when you risk complacency and a lack of a level of interest that you might otherwise have if things are changing."

For the city, the Grammys are a key part of the new initiatives, borne out of Menin's office, of supporting and celebrating New York City's vibrant music community and history; last week, the city announced that this June would be the first-ever New York Music Month, and would comprise 30 days of concerts, workshops, panel discussions and programs underwritten by the city for creators, industry members and fans alike. And Menin says the city will also chip in with events and concerts surrounding Grammy week, in addition to the various events and shows that the Academy itself puts on each year.

"There will of course be the many Grammy-related events that happen in and around the city, and we're really focused on inclusion and access," Menin said. "There are a limited number of people that attend the awards themselves, and then of course many millions of people who watch the event on TV, but we're really focused also on celebrating music in general in New York City."

The venture into New York City is a one-year deal for the Grammys, however, which will return to Los Angeles in 2019 for at least a few years. But Portnow and others are leaving the door open for a return in the future. "I am a proponent of having an open mind, being willing to experiment, take risks and try things, and also mix it up and not be predictable," Portnow said. "There are opportunities in the future for the event to be [in different locations], whether in New York or in other cities... There's nothing like the Grammys to focus the spotlight on a worldwide basis wherever we are."


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