A Grammy Award (originally called the Gramophone Award)—or Grammy—is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. The annual awards ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and some of the awards of more popular interest are presented in a widely viewed televised ceremony. It is the music equivalent to the Emmy Awards for television, the Tony Awards for stage, and the Academy Awards for film.
The awards were established in 1958. Prior to the first live Grammys telecast in 1971 on American Broadcasting Company (ABC), a series of taped annual specials in the 1960s called The Best on Record were broadcast on National Broadcasting Company (NBC). The first Grammy Award telecast took place on the night of November 29, 1959, as an episode of the NBC anthology series Sunday Showcase, which was normally devoted to plays, original TV dramas, and variety shows. Until 1971, awards ceremonies were held in both New York and Los Angeles, with winners accepting at one of the two. Pierre Cossette bought the rights to broadcast the ceremony from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and organized the first live telecast. CBS Broadcasting bought the rights in 1973 after moving the ceremony to Nashville, Tennessee; the American Music Awards were created for ABC as a result.
The actual trophy is produced by Billings Artworks in Ridgway, Colorado. The trophies are made and assembled by hand. In 1990, the original Grammy design was revamped, changing the traditional soft lead for a stronger alloy less prone to damage, and making the trophy bigger and grander. The Grammy is assembled in pieces and finally finished off in gold plating. The actual trophies, with the recipient's name engraved, are not available until after the award announcements, so a series of "stunt" trophies are re-used each year for the broadcast.
As of 2007, 7,578 Grammy trophies have been awarded.
The "General Field" are four awards which are not restricted by genre.
Other awards are given for performance and production in specific genres, as well as for other contributions such as artwork and video. Special awards are also given out for more long-lasting contributions to the music industry.
Record companies and individuals may submit recordings to be nominated. The entries are entered online and then a physical copy of the product must be sent to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Once a work is entered, reviewing sessions are held by over 150 experts from the recording industry. This is done only to determine whether or not a work is eligible or entered into the proper category for official nomination.
The resulting list is circulated to all NARAS members, each of whom may vote to nominate in the general field (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist) and in no more than nine out of 30 other fields on their ballots. The five recordings that earn the most votes in each category become the nominees. There may be more than five nominees if there is a tie in the nomination process.
Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are generally invited to screenings, or sent DVDs, of movies nominated for Oscars. In contrast, NARAS members receive no nominated recordings.
After nominees have been determined, final voting ballots are sent to Recording Academy members. They may then vote in the general fields and in no more than eight of the 30 fields. NARAS members are encouraged, but not required, to vote only in their fields of expertise. Ballots are tabulated secretly by the major independent accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Following the tabulation of votes the winners are announced at the Grammy Awards. The recording with the most votes in a category wins and it is possible to have a tie. Winners are presented with the Grammy Award and those who do not win are given a medal for their nomination.
In both voting rounds, Academy members are to vote based upon quality alone. They are not supposed to be influenced by sales, chart performance, personal friendships, regional preferences or company loyalty. The acceptance of gifts is prohibited. Members are urged to vote in a manner that preserves the integrity of the academy.
The eligibility period for the 2011 Grammy Awards is September 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010.
With 31 Grammy Awards, Sir Georg Solti is the male artist with the most Grammy wins. Alison Krauss is the biggest winner among female artists with 26 awards. U2, with 22, holds the record among bands, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra holds the record for any musical group with 60 wins.
Because thousands of recordings appear each year and very few voting members have heard more than a relatively small number of them, it is likely that many individual votes will be cast by voters who are unfamiliar with all the recordings nominated in that category. Additionally, because of the small number of votes cast in many of the categories, a lobbying campaign for a particular recording may need only a few dozen votes for success. Large choruses have achieved Grammy awards after persuading many of their members to join NARAS.
Certain musical artists have voiced personal issues with the nature of the Grammys.
|“||I think the Grammys are nothing more than some gigantic promotional machine for the music industry. They cater to a low intellect and they feed the masses. They don't honor the arts or the artist for what he created. It's the music business celebrating itself. That's basically what it's all about.||”|
|“||It was all there: anger, love, forgiveness, family, community and the deepest sense of history... Here was the full power of American music challenging my arrogance. I watched the rest of the show with new eyes. The Grammys invited jazz, country, rock, soul and classical into the same hall. No regard for demographic studies of what would deliver ratings, no radio call-out research—a mad amalgam of the profound and the absurd and the creeping realisation that one man's Mozart is another man's Vegas.||”|