The Grammys are the most prestigious awards ceremony in the music industry, so it’s only natural that fans want to know how they can vote for the Grammys to support their favorite artists.
The Grammy Awards — originally known as the Gramophone Awards (hence the gramophone-shaped trophy) — began in the 1950s to honor artists and leaders in the industry, much like movies and television have the Oscars and the Emmys. The first awards ceremony was held on May 4, 1959 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles and the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City. However, the awards ceremony was not televised until the second Grammys. (The Grammys’ first live broadcast was the 13th awards ceremony in 1971.) Since the first Grammys, hundreds of artists have been honored by the Recording Academy. Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Kanye West, U2 and Jay-Z are among the most-awarded artists in Grammy history.
As with most awards shows, the voting process for the Grammys is complicated. There are several steps and predictions are not always as easy as in other awards shows. Unlike other music awards shows like the Billboard Music Awards or the MTV Music Video Awards, the Grammys aren’t voted on by the public. Instead, the awards are decided by voters at Recording Academy. Find out ahead of time how Grammy winners are determined and how you can support your favorite artists even if you can’t vote for them.
According to the official Grammys website, the first step in the nomination process is to review the submissions. Before the members of the Recording Academy decide on nominations, around 350 experts from different genres decide whether a submission is admissible and classified in the correct field. What does that mean? Well, these experts make sure that a country song submitted for a country category is actually a country song and that a Best New Artist is actually a new artist. (There are many more policies for this category that we won’t go into now. But you can read about them here.)
“The purpose of the screenings is not to make artistic or technical judgments about the recordings, but to ensure that each entry is appropriate and placed in the correct category,” the Grammys website states.
Once the Grammys entries have been viewed, it’s time to nominate them. According to the official Grammys website, the Recording Academy mails ballots to eligible voting members who are instructed to vote only in their areas of expertise. So, essentially, a folk singer who is in the Recording Academy is told to only vote in the folk categories. The Grammys website doesn’t say how the Recording Academy enforces this. While Grammy voters can only vote for up to 15 categories in their specialty’s genre fields, all voters can vote in four main categories: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist”. .)
After the nomination vote is completed, the ballots are counted by the independent accounting firm Deloitte. The Grammys website also states that there are a few specialized categories determined by a national nominations review committee made up of members across the country.
After nominations are finalized, final ballots are mailed to eligible voting members, who can vote in up to 15 genre categories, plus the four main categories: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year ‘ and ‘Best New Artist’. Again, voters are instructed to vote only in areas of their expertise. Deloitte then tallies the votes before announcing the results at the annual Grammy Awards show, where the winners are announced for the first time. The Grammys website states that the results are sealed in Deloitte-sealed envelopes and are not known until announced.
Who’s in the Recording Academy?
All of this can leave you wondering who the F is in the Recording Academy that determines Grammy winners and submissions. According to Billboard, the Recording Academy is made up of more than 21,000 musicians, producers, engineers and other music industry professionals, but only about 12,000 members are allowed to vote. A Recording Academy Member may become a Voter with the consent of at least two Recording Academy Voters. Voters must also be in good standing with their dues, which are $100 per month.
The official Grammys website states who can become a member of the Recording Academy: “Recording Academy Voting Members are professionals with creative or technical credits for at least six commercially released tracks (or their equivalent). This may include singers, conductors, songwriters, composers, engineers, producers, instrumentalists, arrangers, art directors, album note writers, narrators, and music video artists and technicians.”
In terms of demographics, Recording Academy is embarrassingly skewed. Slate reported in 2018 that women made up just 21 percent of the Recording Academy, while people of color made up just 28 percent. This may explain why there are only two women (Allison Krauss and Beyoncé) in the top 14 most decorated Grammy winners in history. It also explained why only one woman (Alessia Cara) took home a Grammy on TV in 2018. To counteract this, the 2018 Grammys invited 900 new members, specifically women, people of color and people under the age of 39.
While the Grammys aren’t voted on by the public, fans can still support their favorite artists by posting about them on social media to put them on the Recording Academy’s radar. Fans can also vote in Grammys polls, which are created by music industry magazines like Billboard and are often read by Recording Academy members to show their support. And then there are Grammys campaigns. Artists have been known to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year on their Grammys campaigns, which include billboards and promotional packages for members of the Recording Academy. While it’s not common for fans to come together to pay for their own Grammys campaigns, there are reports of fandoms mobilizing in the same vein to get their favorite artists to perform like number one on the Billboard Hot 100 to reach .
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