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Grammys Get Interactive

Brian Snitzer knows computer geeks can be cool.

Very cool.

Just back home in North Carolina from producing the official Web site of the Australian Masters Golf Championship, the IBM computer scientist was jetting off to Los Angeles to do the same thing at the Grammy Awards.

"Some people say I've got the greatest job in the world," Snitzer said in a telephone interview Monday from Raleigh-Durham International Airport. "I can't disagree."

Launching the official Webcast of the Grammys is a departure of sorts for IBM, which has provided networking for sports events like the Olympic Games, four Grand Slam tennis championships, and major golf tournaments like the Australian Masters.

"The biggest challenge is the rapid updates and the amount of content we need to sift through," Snitzer said about the Grammy Web site. "In most ways, it's quite similar to big sporting events."

So far, traffic has been fairly light on www.grammy.com. Snitzer expects it to increase considerably after television viewers begin to see promotional spots for the broadcast.

"So far we haven't had a lot of hits," said Snitzer, who works at Research Triangle Park when he's in North Carolina. "We expect to be in the multiple millions by this time next week."

Using the link, music fans will have access to backstage chats and audio interviews with their favorite artists.

Logging on to the site, there's plenty to please music lovers of all persuasions. Of course, there's lots of content on current stars like Monica, 'N Sync and Shania Twain.

The site also pays homage to nominees in all 95 Grammy Award categories. On Monday, jazz great Pat Metheny and veteran rocker Elvis Costello were featured.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, also known as the Recording Academy, released its Grammy nominations last month.

Michael Greene, president and chief executive officer for the Recording Academy, said this year's Grammy Web site is distinctive. While the Grammys have been on the World Wide Web for five years, this is the first time the site has been produced by IBM. Greene hopes IBM's experience will help make this year's Web site the best ever.

Although Snitzer has helped launch Web sites at major sports events around the world, he and the other IBM employees aren't exactly sure what to expect when the curtain falls next Thursday night.

"We've got a lot of interactive, cool things to make someone feel like they are actually at the event," he said. "We're not sure what viewers are going to do."

In the meantime, the IBM folks will rub elbows with artists like Lauryn Hill, Garth Brooks and Sheryl Crow.

But are they hip to their music?

"We get the chance to hear a lot of new things," Snitzer said.

The 41st annual Grammys will be held Feb. 24 in Los Angeles and broadcast on CBS.

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