To Hug, Or Not To Hug?

Schmoozing at Grammy Week poses new challenges


AS ANOTHER pandemic awards season nears, concerns are mounting when it comes to attending in-person events — from how to score invites to greeting one another.

While party planners are struggling to book venues in Los Angeles — in part because events that were postponed ahead of the Grammy ceremony earlier this year are now competing for space around the upcoming show — partygoers are still wondering where and when the fun will be and whether they’ll be safe to attend.

Nick Maiale, founder/CEO of, an executive management firm for label, streaming and tech clients, is a fan of the wristband method, in which event attendees can choose to wear a colored band alerting others, “I’m not comfortabl­e getting hugged.” Maiale, who lives in Nashville, says whether an event has a vaccine requiremen­t is perhaps the biggest factor he weighs when deciding to attend, in addition to if it’s inside. “I can wholeheart­edly say I’d feel more comfortabl­e being outside where people can spread out,” he says, “and I think it makes other people feel the same way.”

Maiale’s experience with pandemic-era awards shows has been limited to this year’s Country Music Associatio­n Awards held in Nashville, where he already noticed one big change: more surprise parties. He says that while CMA event invites usually roll in weeks before, this year it was quite the opposite. “All the things that I found out about, I didn’t find out until the morning of,” he says, noting that most label events were limited to staff, artists and their immediate camps. “People were being a lot more coy. Big companies, I don’t know if they want their name attached to big things [right now], and I think we can all understand that.”

At the Grammys, he hopes that fewer and smaller-scale events will result in more time for oneon-one meetings. “Personally, I’m already starting to get requests for private meetings, so that’s different. Usually those come very secondary to the parties.”

Maiale says he’s not responsibl­e for any Grammy Week events this year and adds that it’s likely because his clients “don’t want to assume the risk.” That said, from his experience with organizing events and panels in Nashville, he stresses the importance of backup plans, “whether that’s small dinners or having cancellati­on policies.”

But no matter how many parties do take place or what the requiremen­ts to attend may be, “I think you’re going to hear about things closer to the events,” says Maiale. “People are trying to

[wait and] see what happens.”

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