How the Grammys Work

February 11, 2011  |  

(TheLoop21) — Every year when Grammy nominations are announced and later when the winners are eventually presented with their awards, a swarm of conspiracy theories and backlash is sure to follow. You’ve sat in your living room during the ceremony and heard the cries of “they’re just trying to help that album sell,” or “they paid for that award.” I’ve even had my own theories about the awards show process. My “brown baiting” idea has seemed validated by the fact that Eminem – I know he’s not “brown” but hey, he’s a rapper – has been the cornerstone of the Grammy advertising campaign this year. I still doubt he wins the award for Album of the Year; it’s more likely we’ll be duped again. After my last article about the Grammys, I decided to take a closer look at the nomination and voting process to see exactly how the whole thing worked.  First, members of the Recording Academy and record labels send music to the committee to be considered for nomination; there can be more than 15,000 entries in a given year. Who is this mysterious Recording Academy you ask? The Recording Academy is a community of musicians that vote on the nominations and winners of Grammys. The Grammys prides itself on the fact that winners are voted on by their peers. Joining the Recording Academy isn’t too difficult. An artist can apply in their category of expertise: vocalist, producer, engineer, etc, by filling out an application form and paying $100 annual dues. So, if the artists don’t pay the money, their voices won’t be heard. While $100 isn’t a lot of money for Diddy, it may be too hefty a price tag for the struggling artists out there.  He or she also has to have contributed to six retail tracks released via traditional distribution or 12 digitally released tracks.  Once the entries are received, over 150 experts in each field – Jazz, R&B, Country, Hip-Hop, etc. – determine if these submissions are eligible based on the way they are sold and marketed and if they are released within the appropriate timeline. These experts – whose names aren’t revealed due to fear of bribery – then group the releases in their appropriate categories. So, if you wonder who determines the difference between “album of the year” and “song of the year,” it’s these guys. All of this accepted music is sent out to the academy so nominations can take place.

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