Grammys Defend 'Fair and Ethical' Voting After Accusations of Rigging - Rolling Stone
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Grammys Defend ‘Fair and Ethical’ Voting After Accusations of Rigging

Chief awards officer issues statement following Deborah Dugan’s allegations that Song of the Year category swayed by “blatant conflict of interest”

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12:  A GRAMMY statue is displayed during Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration at Microsoft Theater on February 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Following accusations that Grammy voting is "rigged," the Recording Academy defended their "fair and ethical" voting process.

Rich Polk/Getty Images

Following accusations from ousted CEO Deborah Dugan that Grammy voting is “rigged,” the Recording Academy defended their “fair and ethical” voting process in a statement Thursday.

“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,” the Recording Academy’s chief awards officer Bill Freimuth said in a statement. “This process is strictly enforced with everyone involved and has no exceptions.”

In a pair of television interviews Thursday, as well as in her EEOC complaint against the Recording Academy, Dugan alleged that “a blatant conflict of interest” occurred in the Song of the Year category, where a song that was initially ranked 18th out of 20 became a nominee in the category because the artist was present when the voting occurred.

“In that room not only are there trustees that have conflicts of interest on particular artists that are nominated, but more importantly there are even artists that are nominated that are in the room,” Dugan told CBS This Morning, adding that vote rigging was also rampant in lesser profile jazz categories. Dugan also claimed to have evidence of the rigged voting process but not disclose what that proof is, nor who the alleged undeserving Song of the Year nominee is.

However, Freimuth fired back at Dugan’s claims in a statement that detailed the entire Recording Academy voting process.

“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,” Freimuth said. “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.”

Freimuth concluded, “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.”

Read the Recording Academy’s full statement 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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