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Behind the making of the Grammys

Illustration: Alex Stallsworth • The Sentry
Billie Eilish took home the Big Four Awards at the 62nd Grammy Awards.

How the winners are decided

The 62nd annual Grammys award show has left the music industry buzzing with excitement. Not only did Billie Eilish break a record by being the youngest person to win the ‘Big Four’ awards (Song, Record, Album, and New Artist), but artists like Lizzo, Lil Nas X, and Demi Lovato gave outstanding live performances worth remembering. It is during award shows like this that the public truly starts to wonder how the nominees and winners are chosen. Many feel as though popularity plays too large a role in the decision making, but the selection process is not as simple as picking favorites.

Before the screening process can begin, artists must submit recordings of their music during the open submission period to even be considered in any category. This usually stretches from the beginning of the previous year to when the nominations are officially released in December. According to the website for the Grammys Award show, the first step in the process includes updating the rules and guidelines for nominees before eventually sorting the submissions. This step calls for hundreds of trusted professionals in the music industry, such as producers and artists, to sort through the list of nominations and put them into their corresponding category for primary voting.

Then, the sorted ballots are sent to another group of music industry personnel. These voters are only allowed to vote for their area of knowledge. For example, a producer for Country music is generally not meant to nominate people or songs primarily in the Jazz genre. However, all members are meant to vote for the cross-genre categories such as Best Song of the Year or Best New Artist. This is also the period of time where ‘Craft’ category nominations are decided by a national committee. These categories are meant to give credit to the more technical side of the music industry with awards like Producer of the Year or Remixed Recording.

The final voting process determines which of the nominees actually receive the reward at the upcoming Grammys ceremony. The votes are counted and sorted by the “Independent accounting firm of Deloitte,” according to the Grammys website. Once the votes are counted, the winners are printed on a sealed envelope and revealed at the Grammys Award Show on live television. The use of an independent accounting firm ensures that votes are not tampered with and the winners of each category won because of their hard work and talent.

Often times, when award show season rolls around, people feel as though many ‘good’ songs are left behind while the ‘popular’ nominations shine through due to favoritism. This is untrue because professionals in each genre of music only pick for their area of expertise and are limited in the number of votes they can cast. It may not be a perfect system, but the fact is that there are so many songs and albums created each year that it is impossible to recognize them all. The process behind Grammy nominations is not to blame. Every person has their favorite song, and the true reward for an artist is having their audience love their music.

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