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lizzo at the 2020 grammy awards
lizzo at the 2020 grammy awards
Photo by Amanda Edwards / Stringer from Getty Images
Culture > Entertainment

Here’s How The Grammys Voting Process Actually Works

Have you ever wondered how voting works for the Grammys? As the 65th Annual Grammy Awards are almost here, let’s break down how the year’s nominees are voted and how each year’s winners are crowned. Sit back and get ready to be the smartest person at your Grammys watch party this Feb. 5.

This year’s Grammys comes with a dose of drama, as big names like Drake and the Weeknd have announced their boycott of the awards despite having the potential to win. The Weeknd is boycotting this year’s ceremony as he was snubbed from last year’s categories, despite having his album, After Hours, spend four consecutive weeks as No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Drake on the other hand, despite being a 51-time Grammy nominee and up for two awards this awards season, will not be in attendance due to lack of belief in award shows. 

Outside of various artists’ boycotts, nominees taking the Grammys stage include Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Kim Petras, and Sam Smith. In addition to this performance lineup, the Grammys also announced a few updates to categories. One of the most exciting changes is the addition of the Best Global Music Performance and Best Música Urbana Album categories. But how are winners for these — and all other — categories decided?

There are 91 categories within 27 fields, with each year seeing new expansions in the music industry. From special awards to the general field and categorical nominations, let’s get into how nominees are chosen, and how winners get to take home the gold.

taylor swift at the 2016 grammy awards
Photo by Frederick M. Brown / Stringer from Getty Images
Recording Academy Members submit their picks.

The process starts with record companies submitting entries to be considered, which are then screened to see if they meet eligibility and category placement by Recording Academy members who are experts in their fields, from songwriters to producers, creatives, and artists. Recording Academy members comprise about 12,000 voting members, who are chosen based on their experience and expertise in their respective fields.

Submissions are screened for eligibility.

At this stage, the experts examine and verify the submissions and determine which category they should be placed in: Rock, R&B, Jazz, Country, Gospel, New Age, Rap, Classical and Latin, etc. The submissions are not being reviewed in terms of whether they are Grammy Award winners, but rather if they meet the eligibility standards. For example, an album must be released via general distribution within the last five years and contain greater than 75% playing time of newly recorded music. After determining eligibility, albums are then placed in their respective category.

The first round of voting begins, and official nominees are chosen.

After submissions are confirmed for eligibility, all Recording Academy voters can vote only in their area of expertise during the first round (to determine the nominees). Previously, in addition to all Recording Academy voters, some categories received an additional review by the National Nominations Review Committees and Craft Committees. Similar to the Recording Academy members, these committees are made up of experienced professionals and fellow peers in the music and creative field. However, the Grammys changed this rule in 2021, and discontinued Nominations Review Committees.

One final round of voting picks a winner.

The last nomination round to determine the winner is determined by the Academy Voting Members. To maintain quality and fairness, voting members are directed to vote in only their specific field of experience. They can vote in up to 10 categories within three fields of their expertise, and the entire voting body can vote for the four main awards of the night: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist.

Results are taken to the main stage.

Once these nominees are determined, the independent accounting firm named Deloitte arranges the Grammy Award ballots. Their job is to keep the ballots and winner names secure, delivering each category’s winner in a sealed envelope which is opened at the ceremony.

Overall, the Grammy nomination system continues to expand the system to secure fairness and equity in eligibility and categories, but there is still a lot of work that must be done. The Recording Academy President and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. say they have actively listened to criticism about the award show’s lack of diversity and taken steps to recruit and engaged diverse and engaged people to expand their membership base. In a report of the accepted 2022 member class, the numbers seem to be heading in the right direction. 47% of new inductees are under the age of 40, 32% are women, and 44% are people of color. While these numbers are the most diverse they have ever been in Grammy history, the journey is just starting.

Be sure to tune in at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST on Sunday, Feb. 5 to not miss out on this exciting night of music, drama and awards. And if you’re curious who might take home the awards, make sure to check out winner predictions on TikTok!

Lily McAndrews is currently a college student in NYC studying sociology, economics, and Chinese. Outside of writing these masterpieces for you, she enjoys playing tennis and taking long walks on the beach with her sister's dog.