If new Grace music is truly imminent, the VanderWaal publicity machine will once again fully engage, ramping up both social and practical media to maximum potential. The recent total blackout of all hints and sneak peeks, coupled with the creation of a music video prepared and available to drop on the same day as the music release, indicate a level of professionalism and seriousness not seen with any of her previous products. As always, there will be a need for Grace to be involved in publicity, which can include print and video interviews, radio station appearances, and most importantly, live performances of the music to get the word and the sound out.
While she has stated in recent live-streams and posts that she is expecting to schedule some level of touring during 2019, the new music will come much sooner. Performances on social media platforms such as Facebook Live have occurred in the past, and may again prove useful. Posted performances of songs recorded in radio station studios can also be effective, but still only have limited exposure.
It’s practical to expect at least some national television booking to promote the new release. In the past, Grace has hyped new music with a variety of television appearances, including daytime (Today Show, LIVE with Kelly and Ryan, Ellen, Wendy Williams, Megyn Kelly), prime-time (AGT Season 12), late-night (Tonight Show, Late Show, Late Late Show) sporting events (Special Olympics), and basic cable (Total Request Live). While the performances themselves ranged from good to spectacular, the effectiveness in moving the publicity needle can be argued. Grace’s fans look now hopefully to the possibility of her breaking through to the national consciousness with an appearance on the big dog of television gigs: NBC’s long-running variety show – Saturday Night Live.
Even in the dwindling age of broadcast television, Saturday Night Live still is a big deal. While ratings for individual shows vary widely based on the guest host and time of year, average numbers still surpass weekday late-night programming. Last year, SNL averaged over a 4.4 rating and over a 10.4 share, more than double the numbers for either Fallon or Colbert. More importantly, SNL viewership in the crucial demographic of 18-49 year-olds runs between four and six times the values of the weeknight leaders. As a target audience for viewers who would both listen to and would be expected to stream (or even purchase!) new music, Saturday Night Live is still highly desirable. If the current season goes as expected, there will be nine more episodes, with eight musical guests to be scheduled (Gary Clark, Jr. has been announced for the Feb. 16, 2019 show). The final show of the season is usually in the middle of May, giving any potential new Grace releases the opportunity to show worthiness for promotion on SNL. As time goes on, these kinds of distinctions will become less and less available and important, but if she were to appear this season she would be the youngest solo musical guest in the history of SNL.
The show still maintains its reputation as a benchmark of musical success. Much like when Johnny Carson still held sway over the careers of stand-up comedians with a single invitation, the rarefied air of Studio 8H in Rockefeller Plaza for a performance is still transformative. With only 21 live episodes per year, rather than one of several hundred pre-taped performances per year on any of the myriad weeknight late-night gigs, the opportunity still exists to perform two songs in one evening that can elevate an artist beyond a career stuck in neutral, or propel a rising star to the musical heavens.
This is no longer your grandfather’s or even father’s SNL either. While the show has been dedicated since its inception to showcasing the biggest names in the industry along with promoting new and/or alternative musical guests, early music numbers came from performers such as Desi Arnaz, Chuck Berry, 92-year-old jazz pianist Eubie Blake and actresses Karen Black and Raquel Welch, as well as dressing cast members in bee costumes to sing a blues standard. As the show evolved over the years, it has become almost exclusively the domain of top-flight or emerging musicians to promote recent releases onto or up the music charts. Taking stock of just the last 4+ seasons of the show, seasons 40-44, only 5 of the music guests didn’t have either a single in the Billboard Hot 100 or an album in the Billboard 200 at the time of the show, or have a single or the album from which it came subsequently enter or re-enter the charts soon after (and likely due in great part to) the performance. An example of one of those few exceptions is Miley Cyrus’ appearance in the fall of 2015 to promote her “Dead Petz” album, which didn’t chart for the simple reason that she had streamed it for free, an exercise in creative potential bankruptcy.
Overall the booking and scheduling of musical guests are arranged to provide the maximum benefit to both the show and the artists themselves. Certain appearances have been scheduled well in advance to coincide with the debuts of new singles and/or albums for maximum impact. Live performances of such hits as Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ ”Uptown Funk”, Selena Gomez’s “Hands to Myself”, Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman”, Bruno Mars’ single “24K Magic”, were all timed to occur on or near the release weekend. The day after Adele’s iconic album “25” was released, she was the SNL musical guest, performing “Hello” and “When We Were Young”. Some of these shows ranked as the highest rated offerings of their years, and helped the show maintain its elite status.
An August 2018 Twitter poll instigated by SNL itself asked fans to submit suggestions for musical guests for the upcoming season. As reported by TV Insider, Grace was ranked in the top six vote-getters, alongside BTS, Louis Tomlinson, Ciara, Charlie Puth, and 5 Seconds of Summer. While none of these other artists have appeared on the show this year, none have been in the United States supporting their own new or charting music (although 5 Seconds of Summer are featured on the Chainsmokers latest single, released Feb 7, 2019). Should Grace’s new music be deemed worthy of promotion through SNL, it will be in part through the efforts of her fans to help make it come about. At this juncture like no other time before, Grace and Saturday Night Live may be ready for each other.
This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RMyfR1R3y4&lc=UgxigMik5FfQRaB7QCp4AaABAg