Who Picks Grammy Nominees? General Voters Decide in Just 12 of 84 Categories
In a whopping 59 categories, nominations review committees have the ultimate say in determining the nominees.
You probably know that the ultimate Grammy nominees within the so-called “Big Four” categories are determined by a nomination review committee. And you’ll remember that similar committees decide the ultimate nominees in various genre fields.
But you’ll probably be surprised to find out that rank-and-file Grammy voters determine the ultimate nominees in only 12 of 84 categories.
In a whopping 59 categories, rank-and-file voters choose the primary round then nominations review committees have the ultimate say in determining the nominees.
The final nominations within the remaining 13 categories are determined by so-called “craft committees.”
With the 63rd annual Grammy Awards but fortnight away — they’re going to be presented on March 14 — it’s an honest time to explore this.
According to the Recording Academy, here’s how it works: In each of the categories that are reviewed, nomination review committees are presented with an alphabetical list of the highest vote-getters by rank-and-file voters. They then listen, discuss and vote. Their votes alone determine the ultimate nominations.
The Recording Academy’s idea in forming these committees was that experts in each of the genre fields would be more apt to be really plugged in, and fewer apt to vote for sentimental favorites, big names or best-sellers.
But the Academy’s heavy reliance on committees raises a fairness issue. Is it fair to permit alittle , handpicked group of insiders (about 15-18 within the genre fields, about 25 or more within the so-called “Big Four” categories) to second-guess the needs of a 14,000-member academy? Something could conceivably rank first with rank-and-file voters and not even get nominated.
The move to nominations review committees began in 1989 with classical, followed by jazz.
The committee approach was adopted within the “Big Four” categories — album, record and song of the year, plus best new artist — in 1995, after controversy erupted over a number of the 1994 Grammy nominations. Some argued that album of the year nods for Tony Bennett and therefore the Three Tenors — and none that year for alternative or hip-hop artists — showed that the Grammys were out of touch.
Many more genre fields shifted to committee review within the next 20 years . the foremost recent fields to fall into the committee umbrella are rock, dance/electronic music, rap, new age and global music (formerly referred to as world music).
The biggest fields (by number of categories) during which the ultimate nominations are still decided by rank-and-file voters are pop (with four categories) and music for visual media (with three).
The biggest fields (by number of categories) during which nominations review committees make the ultimate determinations are American Roots music and classical (with eight categories each) and R&B, jazz and gospel/Contemporary Christian Music (with five each).
Despite the clear overall trend to nominations review committees in most fields, the nominations in pop — arguably the sector with the very best profile — still be decided by rank-and-file voters.
The nominations within the rock field are reviewed by a committee; the nominations within the alternative field aren’t . These are distinct fields, but there’s a big degree of overlap: Five acts have won top album honors in both fields: Beck, Coldplay, U2, Green Day and therefore the Black Keys.
In 13 categories, the nominations are determined by craft committees — which are different from nominations review committees, though they operate similarly. the most important field (by number of categories) during which a craft committee makes the ultimate determinations is Composing/Arranging (3).
In seven of those 13 craft categories, rank-and-file voters choose the primary round. within the other six, rank-and-file voters play no role within the nominations process.
Within one field — production, non-classical — there are two approaches on who votes within the first round. In two of the categories within the field — best engineered album, non-classical and producer of the year, non-classical — rank-and-file voters choose the primary round. within the third — best remixed recording — rank-and-file voters haven’t any involvement.
According to the Academy, the nominations review committee within the Big Four categories reviews the highest 20 picks of rank-and-file voters, while the nominations review committees within the genre committees reviews the highest 15 picks of rank-and-file voters. within the genre committees — but not within the Big Four committee — they need the choice of replacing up to 2 of the listed candidates with write-ins (provided the write-ins were released within the eligibility year).
This is designed to offer late-breaking releases, or just worthy entries that voters may have missed, a second shot at qualifying.
One category, best immersive audio album, won’t be presented this year, due to difficulties in convening a craft committee posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. during a unique solution, the nominations for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards during this category are going to be announced next year additionally to (and separately from) the nominations for the 64th Grammy nominations within the category.
Here are the 84 current Grammy categories, weakened into four groupings supported how the voting is conducted. they’re listed within the order that they seem on the Grammy ballot.
Final nominations are determined by direct vote of rank-and-file voting members (12 categories)
Rank-and-file voting members also choose the primary round of voting.
Pop (including Traditional Pop) (4)
Spoken Word (1)
Musical Theater (1)
Music for Visual Media (3)
Final nominations are determined by nominations review committees (59 categories)
Rank-and-file voters choose the primary round.
General Field (a.k.a. “The Big Four”) (4)
Dance/Electronic Music (2)
Contemporary music (1)
New Age (1)
Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music (5)
American Roots Music (8)
Global Music (formerly referred to as World Music) (1)
Music Video/Film (2)
Final nominations are determined by craft committees (7 categories)
Rank-and-file voters choose the primary round.
Production, Non-Classical (best engineered album, non-classical and producer of the year, non-classical) (2)
Production, Classical (2)
Final nominations are determined by craft committees (6 categories)
Rank-and-file voters play no role in these nominations.
Notes (often called Liner Notes) (1)
Production, Non-Classical (best remixed recording) (1)
Production, Immersive Audio (1)