How the Grammys Help Fans Create Visual Stories


The 56th Annual Grammy Awards sparked laughter, controversy, eye rolling, and a lot of conversation in our living rooms, pressrooms, and social media worlds. Beyoncé’s risqué performance raised eyebrows, and Lorde’s dance moves caused some serious head scratching. Pharrell’s gigantic Smokey the Bear hat generated instant parodies and its own Twitter account. And Kacey Musgraves officially arrived. But what you see onstage is only part of the experience. Thanks to a live stream available on the Grammy website, Grammy viewers can go backstage with the stars and watch them as they exit the stage, prepare for their official Grammy portraits, and glow for the media in the press room. I used my laptop to become a backstage voyeur and content creator by snapping screen shots of the stars and posting my visual stories across my social spaces. This is the new world of entertainment: empowering everyday fans to create content. Here are a few highlights:


I captured a brief moment when Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Merle Haggard lingered for a pre-show interview. The Grammy Awards show really begins hours before the telecast, when performers and presenters arrive to rehearse. Moreover several entertainers and industry figures receive awards during a separate ceremony before prime time. Nelson, Kristofferson, and Haggard reminded me of three giant figures from Mount Rushmore. I used a black-and-white filter to accentuate that impression.

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How Black Sabbath Creates a Tribal Bond with Its Fans


One of the miracle stories of rock music is the resurgence of Black Sabbath. In 2013, the band overcame serious setbacks — substance abuse, internal strife, and cancer among them — to release its first-ever Billboard Number 1 album and complete a successful tour of North America that will continue to South America and Europe. Three of the band’s founding members, now in their 60s, are playing with renewed passion and energy even as one of them, lead guitarist Tony Iommi, receives treatment for lymphoma. I believe the success of Black Sabbath demonstrates the power of tribalism – a mysterious but effective form of audience bonding.


Tribalism occurs when people or organizations create a cult-like bond with their followers, often through the use of visual symbols, language, and rituals. Tribal brands (and musicians are brands, too) make their fans feel like they are members of a special club, no matter how big that club actually is. Harley-Davidson creates tribalism through events and In-n-Out Burger through its Not-So-Secret Menu.  Tribal branding is essential to the success of many pro and amateur sports teams.


Black Sabbath embodies a special kind of tribalism that combines a heavy dose of attitude, powerful music, the appeal of a Satanic jester and a lot of good old-fashioned head banging.

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