Written by Jadon King
The Grammy Awards are, without a doubt, the biggest event of the year for artists and fans alike. Each year, we hold our breath as we wait for the nominations list which is always met with mixed reviews. The debate only grows once the ceremony begins and Twitter (does anyone actually call it X???) lights up as fans give their live opinions on whether or not the Grammys are “fair” and whether or not an artist deserved to win. All of this begs the question: how do the Grammys even work? We all know who we would vote for, but since we don’t get to, who does? Read on to discover how the process works and whose votes take our favs from nomination to acceptance speech! 🎤
A little poking around on Google reveals that the Recording Academy has a six-step process that determines each year’s Grammy award winners. The process is about as straightforward as can be and ensures that the voting is fair and represents the opinion of experienced music industry veterans. 🗳️
Submission: Members of the Recording Academy and record companies submit what they think are Grammy-worthy songs and music videos to the Academy.
Screening: Once all of the submissions are in, the Academy’s voting members (we’ll circle back to that term) screen each submission for eligibility and place it in the appropriate category.
Nominating: Voting members receive ballots specific to their areas of expertise to make sure that submissions are judged by the people who understand what an artist is trying to accomplish. Each voting member gets to vote in up to ten categories across up to three genre fields plus the six categories of the General Field; the General Field includes things like Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist. To ensure fairness, the Academy has ballots counted through an independent accounting firm.
Special Nominating Committees: This step of the process is an extension of the previous step. Final nominations in Craft categories are decided by committees of voting members from across the country who are active in the craft they’re judging. Craft categories are judged by committees (instead of just being voted on) who take extra time to listen and judge the nominations because the award is being given for a larger body of work and not just one song or record. Craft categories include Best Music Video and Best Non-Classical Songwriter of the Year.
Final Voting: Once the nominations are decided and announced, Academy voting members vote in up to ten categories across up to three Fields in the genre Fields plus the four categories of the General Field to determine the winners. Members are only allowed to vote in categories in which they’re peers with the nominees.
Results: The final, and often most controversial step of the Grammys’ process. The same accounting firm that tallies the initial nomination votes steps in here again to make sure that all votes are counted. And of course, the results are announced on TV at the Grammy Awards Premiere!
While the process is relatively straightforward, it still doesn’t answer that burning question of who actually votes on nominations and winners. “Academy voting members” isn't exactly a clear answer, now is it? But digging a little bit deeper into the Recording Academy’s website provides more clarity. A voting membership is invite-only and is for performers, songwriters, producers, engineers, instrumentalists, and other creators active in the recording industry. To receive an invite, you need two recommendations from other music industry pros, as well as proof that music is the main focus of your career. Clearly, the process is no joke and the Academy only wants the best as members. Whether or not we agree with them, of course, is a separate discussion altogether. 🧐
So there you have it! That’s your official With the Band guide to how the Grammys work and who gets to break hearts all over the world with their votes. While we wish we could do more than just rant about the results on socials, at least we can trust the people voting (hopefully) to know what they’re talking about. All that said, how do you think the voting members did this year? Who do you think got snubbed and who do you hope secures the win in their category? Sound off on our socials: Instagram, TikTok, and X!
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