Road to The Grammys: How Voting Works

Demystifying the process for how the best of the best get chosen.
By Ben Jacklin

The Grammys are still considered one of the most prestigious awards in the arts. For music, there’s nothing better than winning a Grammy, but how does the process work? Who votes for the Grammys and how long do they consider artists before actually voting? We explain the process for the Immersive Audio Album category (and some other categories) below.

It all starts with members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) and record companies submitting their album and song entries to the Grammys. A panel then screens these, checking that they are eligible for the Grammy Awards that year and if they have been submitted as the correct category. No actual votes take place at this stage.

The Nomination Process

The Grammy Academy’s voting members (a selection of professionals involved in recording and producing music) carry out the nominating process.

Members decide the five finalists by voting on an initial ballot.

In some categories such as Immersive Audio, final nominees are decided exclusively by a review committee. This committee is made up of members from The Academy’s Chapter cities. This is designed to ensure specialist knowledge is used when creating the nominations. Craft committees use the initial ballot and their own specialist knowledge to decide the final nominees.

Final Voting

Once all the nominees have been decided, a ballot is sent out to voting members. This includes the final nominees in each of the categories.

To make sure that everyone voting is knowledgeable, they can only vote in up to 15 categories, and only in certain genres. This means that someone known for Country music might not vote in Dance music categories, for instance.

Everyone can vote on categories classed as being the General Field: Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist.

To keep it fair, the ballot system is tabulated by Deloitte, this is an accounting firm which is independent to the Grammys. This final ballot vote is the one used to determine the winners, announced on the night of the Grammys.

Timescales

The timetable and eligibility period do not follow the calendar year, so there are specific timescales to be aware of for the upcoming ceremony.

The eligibility period for the 62nd Grammy Awards in 2020 was October 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019. Only music released commercially during that time could have been submitted.

First round voting ended on October 10, with nominees due to be announced well over a month later on November 20. Final round voting for the winners will take place from December 9, 2019 until January 3, 2020.

The live ceremony will take place on January 20, where the winners will finally be announced.

What to Expect This Year – Best Immersive Audio Album

The Best Immersive Audio Album category is strong this year with potential nominees. New music such as The Savior by A Bad Think and The Secret by Alan Parsons are expected to do well with voters, but classic reissues from Pink Floyd and Hootie and the Blowfish could also be challengers. We’ve reviewed many of the top contenders for the Grammy for Best Immersive Audio Album, and the winner is anyone’s guess!

About the Author

Ben is a writer and musician from the UK with a background in music technology. He writes about engineering and production, musicianship and music equipment for a number of publications including his own site, subreel.com