Quantcast
GREIN ON GRAMMYS: SMOKE-FILLED RUMINATIONS
THE COMMITTEES ARE AT THE WRONG END OF THE GRAMMY PROCESS

 

If you're a voting member of the Recording Academy, you were probably a little bleary-eyed last week. The two-week period for first-round voting ended on 10/31.

If you voted for Record of the Year, you had to wade through 1,025 entries to select the five you thought were most worthy. If you voted for Song of the Year, you had to plow through 1,011 entries to pick the five you want to see advance.

That is a punishing task. I bet a lot of voters put it off to the last minute—or didn't even bother to vote—because the thought of it overwhelmed them. It makes doing your taxes or boning up on how to vote in the midterms seem like a breeze.

In most categories, the voters' top 20 picks will go to a Nominations Review Committee, which will winnow it down from 20 to five. (This year, for the first time, they'll take it down from 20 to eight in the "Big Four" categories—Album, Record and Song of the Year and Best New Artist.)

I think the Recording Academy has its committees at the wrong end of the process. Instead of the status quo, imagine that the committee is charged with taking the list of 1,025 singles or tracks that are entered for Record of the Year and winnowing it down to 40, 50 or 60—100, tops. They would then turn that far more reasonable list over to its full voting membership. They would continue to ask their members to pick the five they think are most worthy.

That still wouldn't be an easy task for rank-and-file voters, but it would no longer be next-to-impossible. This year's list of Record of the Year entries consumes almost 17 pages. If it was cut down to 60 entries, it would fill a little more than one page.

Artists, songwriters, producers, engineers and the many other talented professionals who comprise the Recording Academy are busy people. They don’t have endless amounts of time to pore over a ridiculously padded list that is larded with names that have next to no chance of going anywhere.

I'll be honest with you: I doubt that the Academy will ever do this. If they did, they would please, let's say 60 artists, and displease—even anger—many more.

Under the current system, they can tell any disappointed artists, "We presented your entry to our full membership and they voted. I'm sorry it didn't make it, but as you saw, it was on the list."

Under my system, the Academy would have to take some responsibility for entries that didn't advance. After all, it was their committee that chose not to advance them. Some disgruntled artists might not renew their memberships. "What do I get out of it?," they might say. "The full membership didn't even get to see my entry, to vote it up or down."

So it's more expedient for the Recording Academy to simply list everything in the first round. But I would like to think that their top priority is the quality of the voting—and that would mean presenting the full membership with a much more reasonable task.

By my count, 49 artists have two entries (as lead artists) on the entry list for Record of the Year. Four have three entries, one has four entries and one has five entries.

There are very few cases where it makes sense to put forward more than one entry by an artist. You're just splitting your votes. But looking at it from the point of view of a little-known artist, they're not really hoping to be nominated—they know they have no chance. They're just interested in getting their name out there—and if that's the goal, the more entries, the better.

Brothers Nevala Carswell Kozak have four entries. I wish this instrumental quartet every success, but this year it's patently ridiculous for voters to have to sift through four entries by Brothers Nevala Carswell Kozak just to do their due diligence and vote for Record of the Year.

Juan Magan is this year's champ for "flooding the zone." He has five entries.

Are these people "gaming the system"? Not really. The system is broken. It needs to be fixed.

Obviously, the committee members that winnow 1,025 entries down to 40 or 60 or 100 would need to be scrupulously fair, well-informed and up-to-date. They would need to be not overly swayed by the charts and sales success—but not somehow disdainful of acts that have achieved it, either. Such committee members can be found. (They might even already be on these committees.)

Will anything come of my proposal? Changes are afoot at the Academy—more so than at any time in the recent past—so who knows? I thought it was worth putting out there.

 

KACEY, LUKE ARE ONE STEP CLOSER TO GRAMMY NOMS
The CMA Awards effect. (11/16a)
AS VIVENDI PREPS FOR UMG SALE, LIBERTY’S ALL EARS
Look for a Valentine's Day sale. (11/16a)
REVENUE CHART: ARIANA, METRO,
“GALILEO, GALILEO”
Classic rock pulling in the bucks—it's been a while. (11/16a)
A CMA GALLERY
Nashville gets dressed up (11/15a)
RAINMAKERS: MYSTERY GUEST, PLEASE SIGN IN
What do we get if we guess right? (11/9a)
GRAMMY NOMINEES
Collect 'em all!
MMA FOR DUMMIES
Not Mixed Martial Arts; the Music Modernization Act, dummy.
IS IT COLD IN HERE?
...or are our bosses from outer space?
THE KIDS
They're leaning on the button.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)