How the GRAMMYs Work


Every year, the Recording Academy gathers nominations for the GRAMMY® Awards. Associate and voting members can nominate artists online or by mail, as can major and independent record labels who have registered with the Awards department. To be eligible, recordings must have been released in general commercial distribution in the United States between October 1 of the previous year and September 30 of the current year.

Once the Recording Academy receives the nominations, expert reviewers organize them. No judging takes place during this step -- its purpose is only to sort each nomination into one of 31 musical fields, such as rap, country, jazz and rock. Although people most often associate the GRAMMYs with music, the awards also recognize comedy, spoken word recordings and music videos. As the industry evolves, the Awards & Nominations Committee can also add fields or change the existing ones. The Academy Trustees must approve the changes.

After sorting the nominations, the Recording Academy mails ballots to its voting members. The purpose of this first round of voting is to select five nominees for each award. To make sure the voting process is accurate, members may vote:

  • For the four general categories of Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist
  • In a maximum of nine of the 31 fields, all within their areas of expertise

Members return their ballots to the independent accounting firm Deloitte, which tallies the votes.

The Recording Academy then distributes a second round of ballots to each voting member. This time, the member may vote for the four general categories and in a maximum of eight of the 31 fields. Deloitte tallies the votes and places the results in envelopes which remain sealed until the ceremony.

Most people associate the GRAMMY Awards with the televised awards show and its live performances. But the Awards cover far more categories than you see on TV. In 2005, the Recording Academy awarded GRAMMYs in 107 categories within the 31 fields. In addition to the most well-known awards like Song of the Year, the Recording Academy recognizes a wide range of musical accomplishments, down to album notes and package design. The Recording Academy presents most of these awards separately on the afternoon of the televised ceremony.

Regardless of whether they receive their award on live TV or earlier in the day, each winner gets a small statue of a gramophone. The GRAMMYs get their nickname from these statues.

For lots more information about music and the GRAMMYs, check out the links on the next page.

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