This year it is the 60th Annual Grammy Awards and we all know what that means. Good music of the year won’t get recognized, all genres won’t be represented and we will yet again question the motives of the Recording Academy and their nomination and selection process.
It’s not only the public opinion of the awards that’s changing, it’s the industry too. Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Will Smith and Lyor Cohen are a few people who have boycotted the Grammys in the past due to unfair voting regulations and the unbalanced categories represented in the telecast.
This issue starts with the nomination process; record companies and Recording Academy members enter submissions which they personally deem as worthy into the Grammy Award process if the work fits within the time of eligibility. The eligibility timeframe for this year’s Grammy Awards is from Oct. 1, 2016 – Sept. 30, 2017. It makes sense that it takes a little time for the academy to calculate the votes, but shouldn’t it be considered the Awards of 2017 and not of 2018? This year just started and it doesn’t make sense that it should be called the “Album of the Year” the year after it was released.
Once the submissions are sent and reviewed, they are then put through a selection of first-round ballots. The members that select these first round ballots are experts in their fields in the music world. According to the Grammy’s website, “Recording Academy voting members are professionals with creative or technical credits on at least six commercially released tracks.” But in today’s age anyone can release music digitally with Soundcloud and Spotify. How can they differentiate who is qualified to be a Recording Academy member and how can their opinion on music in any genre be considered valuable? Well, to be a member, you need to pay membership fees and measure up to their guidelines, which are vaguely outlined on their website. So as far as I can tell, as long as you have money and release music regardless of its response, then you can be accepted into the academy. Additionally, all voting members are also eligible to vote in any awards cycle, even if they participated in works of that cycle. Basically, that means they can vote for their own work, which defeats the point of the voting system.
Other than the Grammys being biased in voting, it is also biased in representation. During the telecast, live performances are the forefront, not the actual awards which the show based on. This year, there will be 15 performers, each contributing a few songs. Not only does this make the telecast longer, but it takes away from the awards. This is why you don’t hear who won from a majority of their 84 categories. They usually plan to present only the general, pop, r&b and rap categories with maybe a lyrical, theatre or rock category thrown in but not at all evenly. The Grammy’s are considered “music’s biggest night” but how could that be with a biased voting system favoring the popular and underrepresenting some of the largest music genres of today?