Two days after filing an EEOC complaint against the Recording Academy, suspended President/CEO Deborah Dugan appeared on television news shows to reiterate her accusations of corruption and impropriety in the Grammys voting process. In response, the Academy’s chief awards office, Bill Freimuth, has now issued a statement defending the awards’ “fair and ethical” process.
Dugan has claimed that the Grammys’ category voting committees are rife with conflict of interests. She says the Board of Directors have the power to replace potential nominees with their own preferences, and that artists up for nominations have at times been present on their own category’s voting committee. In particular, she alleges that one artist up for Song of the Year this year was actually able to vote for themself despite being ranked low on the initial list.
Freimuth’s statement contends most of this. He says the Academy’s rules “are strict” and prohibit committee members who are eligible for a Grammy from voting in that category: “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.”
What’s more, Freimuth contends, “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.”
Elsewhere in the statement, Freimuth calls Dugan’s accusations “spurious… categorically false, misleading and wrong.” He concludes, “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.”
You can read the Recording Academy’s full statement below. Despite all the freshly unfolding controversy, the Grammys will take place this Sunday, January 26th. We’ll be covering it all night, so stay tuned.
“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.”