Grammys: What to Know About Recording Academy Members, Voting Process, and More

Fresh off the 2024 Grammys, we take a look at the Recording Academy voting process behind the annual ceremony.

a grammys trophy is shown
Image via Getty/Terence Rushin/The Recording Academy
a grammys trophy is shown

With another year of the Grammys now in the books, reporting a 34 percent increase in viewership, the discussion returns to questions about the process behind the annual awards show.

In a recently resurfaced clip, originally shared back in 2022, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. is seen giving a brief overview of what can turn a nominee into a winner.

"First, you have to understand the only way to win is to have the membership of the Academy vote for you," Mason said in the clip, originally credited to @OleleSalvador on Twitter. "In order to be a member of the Academy, you have to be a professional working in music in the United States. For now, the United States. Hopefully we grow."

Mason continued, noting what happens once such a professional becomes a Recording Academy member.

"All the music gets submitted," he explained. "The members listen to it and they evaluate it on the quality of the art. Not the sales, not the streams, not how many fans, not how many followers. But purely on the opinion. And it's very hard, as you all know, because it’s subjective."

In short, Mason added, a win in any particular category is “the opinion of the membership in that particular year."

A more detailed look at this year’s winners can be found here. For a slightly more in-depth breakdown of the Recording Academy's process, see below.

What is the Recording Academy?

Per the Recording Academy, its stated mission is to “recognize excellence in the recording arts and sciences, cultivate the well-being of the music community, and ensure that music remains an indelible part of our culture.” As for who makes up the Academy, a broad way of putting it is to refer back to Mason's resurfaced remarks, namely: "In order to be a member of the Academy, you have to be a professional working in music in the United States."

What is required to be a member?

Music professionals who aim to become voting members must first go through the annual Recording Academy’s Peer Review Panel. A pair of recommendations from “music industry peers,” i.e. no self-recommendations, are required for consideration. Prospective members must also provide “proof” of music being their main career, as well as show a dozen “verifiable credits in a single creative profession.”

What do members do?

Voting members of the Academy ultimately determine any given year's slate of Grammys winners. First, members and record companies submit work for consideration during that year’s eligibility window. A categorization-focused screening process follows, after which first-round ballots are sent out to voting members. Voters, per the Academy, are instructed to only vote in their respective “areas of expertise.” For what's called "Craft categories," the final nominees are determined by committees featuring "actively working" members from all of the Academy's Chapter cities. Categories falling under that definition include Songwriter of the Year Non-Classical, Music Video, and Producer of the Year Non-Classical.

How are winners determined?

For the final wave of voting, the Academy says its members are told to only vote in areas “in which they are peers of the nominees.” But don’t take my word for it. Here’s how the Academy explains it on their official site:

“After nominations have been determined 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. To ensure the quality of voting, members are directed to vote only in those Fields in which they are peers of the nominees.”

From there, the Deloitte & Touche LLP accounting firm tabulates the ballots. The televised ceremony, meanwhile, is where that year’s winners are revealed.

During these frequently revived discussions, awards season campaigning and related practices are often questioned. To read the Academy's stated policies against lobbying and certain types of FYC events, check out the organization's latest rules and guidelines here.

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