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Backstage access makes AP a big winner on Grammy night

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The AP provided its members and clients with incredible access to a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime Grammy show and will have images of the historic night for years to come.

The team of producer Marcela Isaza, entertainment reporter Jonathan Landrum Jr., entertainment photographer Chris Pizzello, music writer Mesfin Fekadu, video journalist Jeff Turner, contributing photographer Jordan Strauss and West Coast video manager Ryan Pearson took advantage of agency exclusive backstage access at the Grammy Awards, resulting in a wealth of interviews for video, and photo access, unmatched by wire service rivals.

Isaza, Landrum and Pizzello underwent numerous COVID-19 screenings in the six days leading up to the show in order to gain access. That access came about because of the AP’s decade-plus relationship with the Recording Academy — and a firm stand by AP: Some artists demanded approvals of performance photos, which the AP declined, and some talent said they would only do interviews if certain questions were off limits. Again, no.

The AP landed at least 20 video interviews with stars such as Dua Lipa, Da Baby, Miranda Lambert and H.E.R, touching on fashion, racial injustice, their pandemic experiences, the return to performing and more. The biggest wins were photos of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, both rarely photographed by AP, on their big night. AP was one of four photo outlets onsite and the only photo news wire. Competitive news services were forced to use years-old pictures the pair, as well as several other stars, with their stories.

Isaza produced a behind-the-scenes video feature,and Fekadu’s mainbar — powered by photos from Pizzello and Strauss,and quickly updated thanks to his preparedness — racked up nearly 110,000 pageviews by Monday afternoon. Google listed AP’s story first in searches for Grammys or Beyoncé during the evening.

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