THE LOWDOWN ON THE MYSTERIOUS GRAMMY VOTING PROCESS
Tuesday // December 8, 2015
It’s that time of year again – the time to celebrate, discuss, and critique the artists that are chosen to represent the best in music of the year. The nominees for the 58th Grammy Awards have been revealed, and though it’s accompanied by the usual snub accusations, the nominees this year have critics saying “This Is Not the Year to Complain About the Grammys”.
This year’s nominations cater to both mass appeal and current tastes in music, without completely succumbing to Top 40 radio. Kendrick Lamar leads with 11 nominations, Taylor Swift and The Weeknd each have 7, and there were surprising nods to both Patti Smith and a mysterious Bruno Mars A Capella Group. But the confusing, and arguably nonsensical, voting and eligibility for Grammy nominees have some fans raging (like THIS Adele fan). That’s why we’re going to breakdown the Grammy nomination process so music industry peasants, like ourselves, can better understand why we can’t cast our votes.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO BE NOMINATED?
According to the Grammy website, for the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards, albums must be released between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015. Recordings must be commercially released in general distribution in the United States during this time frame. Sorry Adele, you just simply aren’t eligible this year. We know you’ll kick ass and take names in 2017.
WHO GETS TO VOTE ON THE NOMINATIONS?
The Grammy voting begins with the Recording Academy Voting Members, an eligible group of about 12,000 professionals ranging from vocalists, conductors, songwriters, composers, engineers, producers, to technicians and more. You must have creative or technical credits on at least six commercially released tracks or 12 digitally released tracks to be considered eligible.
But wait – these members aren’t the sole voices in who wins each year. There is a secret “star chamber of experts” on a special Grammy’s committee that goes over the nominations in the ‘Big Four’ and specialty genre categories to adjust the votes if needed. Basically they have the say in all of the categories that drive television ratings, and no one has any idea who they are.
HOW DOES THE VOTING PROCESS WORK?
After it is decided who is eligible to vote and who is on the secret committee, the voting process essentially takes three steps (give or take some confusing rules):
1. Over 20,000 artistic entries are submitted for consideration, and members vote one round. Each member can make up to five selections in each category.
2. The secret Grammy committee of experts, about 150 from the various fields, reviews round one's selections and casts secret ballots to determine the final nominations, narrowing the choices in each category from 15 to 5.
3. Grammy voters review the final list and place one vote in up to 20 categories according to their fields of expertise, and then mail in their votes on a paper ballot. The votes are then tallied and the winners’ names are sealed in envelopes to await their Grammy night glory.
It all makes total sense, right? We thought so too.