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Grammys Deny Allegations of ‘Rigging’ Nominations

Jem Aswad

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Among the many allegations in ousted Recording Academy chief Deborah Dugan’s bombshell complaint Tuesday was a claim that the nominations are marred by what she has described as “rigging.” The example in the complaint points to the 2019 Best Song category, where an unidentified artist who was represented by a board member moved from the bottom of the shortlist to be a finalist — over Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran. The outrage over that claim is the one that truly gets to the heart of the Grammy process.

In a statement today, Recording Academy Chief Awards Officer Bill Freimuth categorically denined that claim, saying in part: “Spurious allegations claiming members or committees use our process to push forward nominations for artists they have relationships with are categorically false, misleading and wrong,” Chief Awards Officer Bill Freimuth wrote in a statement sent to Variety. “This process is strictly enforced with everyone involved and has no exceptions.”

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The statement follows in full below.

It is the goal of the Recording Academy to ensure the GRAMMY Awards process is led in a fair and ethical manner and that voting members make their choices based solely on the artistic excellence and technical merits of eligible recordings.

Spurious allegations claiming members or committees use our process to push forward nominations for artists they have relationships with are categorically false, misleading and wrong. This process is strictly enforced with everyone involved and has no exceptions. A detailed overview of the full voting process can be found on our website here: https://www.grammy.com/grammys/awards/voting-process.

The Nomination Review Committees are made up of a diverse group of current and relevant music creators with a high level of expertise in their respective genres. These committee members are all Voting Members. Committees are built by the Chair in consultation with the President/CEO and Chief Awards Officer using names submitted by all Academy Chapters. Many are Trustees. They are chosen weeks before the 1st round entry list is created so it is unknown whether any of the approved members will have been involved in a potential nomination. Because these committee members are at the top of their craft, and many members work with multiple artists, it is not unusual that some of the people in each room will end up with nominations from the first round. There are strict rules in place to address any conflict of interest. Should a committee member qualify for a GRAMMY, they are required to leave the room for the entire listening session and are NOT allowed to vote in that category. Committee members do not know the ranking of any entry and the voting is by secret ballot. The committees are not confidential, but the committee members’ names are for the obvious reason of preventing lobbying from outside parties, therefore further protecting the integrity of the voting process. Everything relating to the nomination and voting processes is set up with the intention of protecting the integrity of the awards in order to recognize and celebrate artists’ excellence.

We remain fully committed to the integrity, transparency and robustness of the awards and look forward with excitement to celebrating the artists who deservingly receive them. We are acutely aware that many artists have worked a lifetime for this moment at music’s biggest night and it is them we want to focus on when we celebrate this weekend.

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