It seems year in, year out, no matter what these Awarding Bodies do – they can never please everybody. Whether it be the BRITs, MOBOs, BETs or the GRAMMYs – whenever nominations are announced, opinions and reactions are often divided between those that are happy to see the inclusion of ‘deserving’ acts versus those who feel that some of the key contributors to Music that year were not acknowledged. Gosh, you guys are hard to please aren’t ya? Rich coming from me, I know – but it’d be out of character for me to not drop a little ‘perceived’ arrogance in there somewhere.
In some cases, Awarding Bodies (such as the BRITs and GRAMMYs) have responded to public concerns by making changes to their infastructure – whether that meant diversifying the BRITs Voting Academy so that the BAME Community is better represented, or making songs with samples eligible for a GRAMMY so that some of the most successful, impactful releases are not excluded. This still raises the question though, what is the criteria for these types of Awards?
HOW IT ALL WORKS
Every ‘body’ has their own list of rules and regulations that govern the nomination and voting process of their Awards. Some for example accept votes from the General Public (e.g. MOBO Awards), and others are strictly and exclusively voted on by Music Industry Professionals with absolutely no public inclusion (e.g. the GRAMMYs). Generally speaking however (and whilst they vary) here are the main two nomination criteria items that tend to be the commonality across all Major Awarding Bodies:
- Artist must have had a nationwide commercial release (Single/EP/Album) within eligibility period (differing from body to body).
- Artist/release must have either had significant chart, media, or touring success within the last year (varying from body to body).
WHY THEY WERE LEFT OFF ‘BAD AND BOUJEE’
You may be thinking, well I (or an Artist I know) checks those boxes, so why haven’t they been nominated? Well, I hate to put it this way but (aside from the ‘political’ factors that often surround this subject) Major Award Shows are also often times ‘visibility’ contests’ – or in other words a ‘battle of the most popular’ (which is something you cannot really avoid). I do not think this is a negative thing, because visibility is often reflective of one’s hard work. And no, I am not suggesting a lack of nomination also means a lack of hard work – but you do have to consider the fact that some Awarding Bodies, such as the The Recording Academy (aka the GRAMMYs), receive well over 20,000 submissions each year – with room for only around 450 of those to make it through to final nominations (often times less). So, out out of those “20,000”, which ones do you think are going to ‘cut through the noise’? I’ll give you a clue: it’s the ones who are “most popular” during that period and/or the ones who are most-favoured by voters/academy members.
“But, that’s not fair…other hard working Artists deserve nominations too”. Well, maybe so, my Friend. Unfortunately however, these Awarding Bodies do not have the capacity to honour every “deserving” individual (and understandably so) – hence why they put ‘industry-standard’ regulations in place to not only fizzle out the “clutter”, but to also encourage Artists who aspire to the level where they can be recognised on this scale to have certain things in order, before they consider aiming for a major award of any kind. Sometimes, it’s not for them to ‘come down to your level’, it’s for you to come up to theirs.
PUT UP OR SHUT UP
I am certainly not suggesting all these bodies have a perfect criteria here (as a Member of The Recording Academy myself, I have previously been quite critical of the GRAMMY Nominations and Voting process – which I am glad to see they have since updated), but generally speaking most do share reasonable commonalities that any ‘serious’ Artist pursuing a career in the Music Industry should not have any difficulty understanding. And for those that do, perhaps you ought to shift the focus off of Awards and simply remain focused on the reason why you do what you do…or you could perhaps try and pull a Kanye move, by interrupting the Winner’s Acceptance Speech – wouldn’t personally advise that though. As the quote says “go where you’re celebrated, not where you’re tolerated“.
For more detailed information on how a few of the major awarding bodies work, see the below: