Archive for January 5th, 2018

05
Jan
18

GRAMMY MEMBERS RESPECTFULLY SIGN PETITION FOR TRANSPARENCY.

“I’d like to thank the members of the Academy”, is generally how one’s acceptance speech begins in all of these award shows. But which members of the academy, (who all pay their dues) are they thanking?  Is the awards process a democracy? How do they choose from the thousands of brilliant and not so brilliant songs, movies, plays and shows? Many members would like transparency in the steps involved of the decision process.  While others prefer to have us “pay no attention to what’s behind the curtain!”  (But pay!) Right now, just weeks before The Grammys, members of The Recording Academy are paying attention along with their dues, and have signed a respectful petition. 

 

The-Man-Behind-the-Curtain

Perhaps this doesn’t mean much to the public.  If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone say “The Grammys are a joke”, I’d have enough money to pay my dues! But the reality is that we all pay our dues to belong to this organization, because we care about music, and it’s fun to be a part of it, but we most certainly want our votes to count. Do they?  Here is the petition:

 

PREAMBLE
Your undersigned fellow members of The Recording Academy have respectfully signed this petition, which offers discussion points and related proposed revisions  in hopes of improving the Awards process for all members. As The Recording Academy is at its core a representation of the democratic process, and presently, several categories honor recognizing the members’ majority votes to determine the five nominees, we propose the items outlined herein. We welcome an open discussion on these and other topics in order to strengthen and enhance the Recording Academy and its goals relating to the GRAMMY Awards.

NATIONAL NOMINATION REVIEW COMMITTEES                                                                    It is our understanding that in certain categories, The National Nomination Review Committees currently consider the top 15 entries through members’ majority vote, with the option of adding 2 Wild Card slots, (to recognize outstanding work not receiving majority votes), for a total of 17 entries. Then The National Nomination Review Committees vote to determine the 5 Nominees. As The Recording Academy has implemented this Wild Card component to the awards nomination process in order to recognize the very best entries under consideration, we believe the following additional proposed items, taken together or individually, will assist members in understanding and fully appreciating the review and nomination process:

(A) We propose recognition of the members’ majority vote in all categories (with the exception of “CRAFT” categories), and that if not recognized in all categories, at minimum, that the daytime award categories recognize members’ majority vote.

(B) Alternatively, we propose honoring the nominations of the top 4 members’ majority voted entries, and determine the 5th Nomination slot via The National Nomination Review Committees’ majority vote, from Entries 5-15 (the eleven remaining of the top 15), with the option of adding one Wild Card slot to the selection.

(C) We propose that a Certificate of Excellence be made available to recognize those Entrants who earned the top 15 in their category. This certificate could be purchased for the same price, and in the same manner that additional certificates are bought for those who participated in Grammy Nominated projects.

INCREASED TRANSPARENCY
To promote support for all aspects of the awards process and increase member understanding of promotional restrictions in order to avoid related violations, we propose that the following areas be more clearly defined:

(A) DEFINE UNWRITTEN RULES OF SOLICITATION.
It is our understanding that entries earning the top votes have been disregarded/disqualified because they had “too many votes,” or were labelled as “over-soliciting,” or the artists and any participants seeking consideration in an entry, belong to certain social media groups. We request these guidelines/rules be clearly defined and provided to members, and that the guidelines be applied to all members including major labels, independent labels, and independent individuals.

(B) DEFINE BLOC VOTING. It is our understanding that The Recording Academy disqualifies some entries on the basis of “Bloc Voting.” We request these guidelines/rules be clearly defined and provided to members, and that the guidelines be applied to all members including major labels, independent labels, and independent individuals. We would also like to define what function the Deloitte accounting firm has in determining these bloc voting ballots.

AWARDS CEREMONY TICKETS
The GRAMMY Awards is the premier event for music professionals, particularly Academy members. As such, due to the related demand, tickets often sell out in a matter of seconds. To ensure that Academy members are able to participate in the most important event of the year in the music community, we propose that Daytime Program tickets are made available for sale, as a separate event from the Evening Awards, at a more affordable price.

We are confident that the Trustees of The Recording Academy will review our proposed revisions to the awards process, and we thank you in advance for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted, the undersigned Academy members:

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Is that asking too much?

And now for a little history.  I’ve only been a member for 6 years, and I was fortunate enough to have been nominated for Best Americana Album my first year!  How did I get nominated? Americana is a part of all Roots categories, which include genres like Folk and Blues.  All of those categories, in 2012, were a de·moc·ra·cy /dəˈmäkrəsē/. noun – Control of an organization or group by the majority of its members.  Miraculously, I, (someone self-produced, without a label, publicist, or manager) made history as the first recording artist to be honored with the top 5 votes in Americana, for Emotional Jukebox.  (my 6th album.)

The following year, Billboard’s Grammy issue used my name as an example of how The Recording Academy opens doors to all, and Neil Portnow, President of NARAS, said my nomination proved the organization had a level playing field!  Pretty cool, huh?  And then membership doubled.  Why? I suppose it was because other Independent Recording Artists thought they, too, might have a shot!

Slightly before the magazine article, I received a letter and phone calls from a Louis Meyers, head of the “Folk Alliance”; and co-founder of South by Southwest. (A famous music/film festival in Austin, Texas).  I had never met Mr. Meyers before, but he was kind enough to reach out to me.  He told me that he had supported my album, and was extremely unhappy about a huge change made within the organization, which affected his “folkees” as well.  He gave me his permission to use this letter in a book I wrote.  (Unfortunately, he passed away, recently. RIP.)

From: Louis Meyers <louis@folk.org>
Date: Sat, Nov 3, 2012 at 8:36 PM
Subject: Grammy Rule #2
To: Linda Chorney <lindaxxxxchorney@gmail.com>

Hi Linda,

Still having fun?

Don’t know if you heard that they changed the rules on the Roots Category this year, but have not told anyone yet.  This year, the first round voters will not determine the final five in each category.  They will determine the top 20 and a committee will determine which records make it to the final five.

I had lunch with the XXXX NARAS Director and he told me like everyone knew.  He appeared quite surprised once he realized that they have never informed the Grammy members of this major change.  So, the voting process now has zero integrity and all the praise that Neil gave your efforts were complete BS.  He made sure that you and every other regular hard working artist will never have a chance to get to the final five again.

Thought you should know.

Best, Louis

As I included this letter in my book, (the truth), perhaps it was a coincidence, but the following year, all of a sudden, The Recording Academy comes out with this “GRAMMY GOLD” chart, making transparent, all categories that have committees, and those which do not.

But there were still quite a few that did not.  Why did they cave in Roots/Americana?  Well, let’s just say that the powers that be in Americana were not happy about my nomination.  I was not one of them, and no one profited off of my nomination.  It all started with a bullying campaign on facebook by a publicist, planting a seed that I somehow cheated to get my nomination. It’s in my TED talk. But enough about me.

The following year, an unknown, Al Walser, was nominated for Best Dance Recording.  And membership increased, yet again!  At the time this category belonged to EDM, and it was a de·moc·ra·cy.  This caused shitstorm number 2 amongst the EDM community. Lo and Behold, the following year, a committee was put in place to decide all nominees in that field.

The trend continued with RAP and even New Age!?  WTF?

So we have signed a petition.  Who is we?  Members who want the Recording Academy to succeed with true democracy, and are not intimidated by others poo poo’ing our quest.  Here are the top 5 reasons we hear for not signing.

  1. “It’s been done before, and nothing happens. They don’t give a shit, and they are going to do what they want. You are wasting your time.”  But we are supposedly “they”! We pay our dues to be “they”!
  2. “I have an album I’m submitting. I don’t want to make waves!” Or they even go as far as snitching on those of us trying to make a difference, thinking they might get brownie points, while reaching for a brass ring that has been rigged.  Nailed down to prevent them from grabbing.
  3. “I don’t want to get blacklisted or thrown out”.  Some of The brown nosers above, in reason number 2, go as far as attempting to intimidate members into not signing.
  4. “I like the committees just the way they are.”  And of course one does not have to agree with us.  That really is the only reason for not signing that I can respect.
  5. “This is a private matter.”  Yeah, that reminds me of folks who beat their kids.

 

Well, some of us feel beat, but not beaten.  For some, this is a last attempts to improve the voting process, or forever hold on to our money that we shell out every year to be members.  Even if they don’t change a damn thing, and more committees appear, at least members and potential future members can decide, based on knowing what their dues buy.

And I’m not saying the Recording Academy doesn’t do great things, and have its advantages!  I’ve met tons of great people, heard incredible music, made close friends, and the organization does amazing things for childrens’ education, and Music Cares.  Plus, oh yeah, I got friggin’ nominated for a Grammy!

I got my nod, I got my story, and not only did I write a book, I just made a freakin’ movie about it!  It’s called WHEN I SING.  (coming soon!) But as Louis Meyers put it,  “He made sure that you and every other regular hard working artist will never have a chance to get to the final five again.”  I’d like more artists to have a fair shot at the brass ring, instead of the same old people coming up to the podium saying, “I’d like to thank the members of The Academy.”

Don’t thank me, or thousands of us.  We didn’t vote for you, a committee did.

 

 

 

 

 

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