Grammys Defend 'Fair and Ethical' Voting After Accusations of Rigging

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 ficer Bill Freimuth said in a statement. “This process is strictly enforced with everyone involved and has no exceptions.”

In a pair television interviews Thursday, as well as in her EEOC complaint against the Recording Academy, Dugan alleged that “a blatant conflict interest” occurred in the Song the Year category, where a song that was initially ranked 18th out 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 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 prile jazz categories. Dugan also claimed to have evidence the rigged voting process but not disclose what that pro is, nor who the alleged undeserving Song 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 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 any entry and the voting is by secret ballot. The committees are not confidential, but the committee members’ names are for the obvious reason preventing lobbying from outside parties, therefore further protecting the integrity the voting process.”

Freimuth concluded, “We remain fully committed to the integrity, transparency and robustness 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 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 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 the full voting process can be found on our website here: https://www.grammy.com//awards/voting-process.

 The Nomination Review Committees are made up  a diverse group current and relevant music creators with a high level 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 the approved members will have been involved in a potential nomination. Because these committee members are at the top their craft, and many members work with multiple artists, it is not unusual that some the people in each room will end up with nominations from the first round. There are strict rules in place to address any conflict 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 any entry and the voting is by secret ballot. The committees are not confidential, but the committee members’ names are for the obvious reason preventing lobbying from outside parties, therefore further protecting the integrity the voting process. Everything relating to the nomination and voting processes is set up with the intention protecting the integrity the awards in order to recognize and celebrate artists’ excellence.

 We remain fully committed to the integrity, transparency and robustness 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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