Explosive Grammy Accusations: Is the Nomination Process Rigged?
Recently ousted CEO of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan, has made some explosive accusations about the Academy and the Grammy nominations process (among other things) in a claim filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Among the accusations, per Variety: that the Recording Academy’s Board has selected artists who are under consideration for a nomination to sit on the committee that is voting for the category in which they are nominated.
That may sound confusing, so here’s an explanation of what that means: submissions for Grammy nominations are first voted upon by a 12,000-member voting body. The top 20 submissions in each category are then ranked from one to twenty based on that voting. That list is then handed to Board-appointed “nomination review committees.” Those committees narrow down those 20-name lists to five or eight nominees (depending on the category).
Dugan’s accusation asserts that one artist who was ranked at number eighteen out of twenty candidates in the 2019 “Song of the Year” category ended up with a nomination — over Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande. If true, this is a huge hit at the credibility of the Grammy Awards.
Further, she claims that some board members on the committees who choose the Grammy nominees represent or have relationships with nominated artists, and that the Board uses these committees as an opportunity to push forward artists with whom they have relationships. In other words, an artist manager on a nominating committee can use their position to benefit an artist who they represent.
She also says that the Board also manipulates the nominations process to ensure that certain songs or albums are nominated when the producer of the Grammys telecast wants a particular song performed during the show. She even says that the Board can add in artists for nominations who did not even make the initial 20-artist list.
Some of Dugan’s other accusations include that she was sexually harassed by Academy executive Joel Katz, and that “Katz and his law firm are paid an exorbitant amount of money by the Academy,” including $250,000 per year (plus reimbursement of travel and other expenses) just to be on call.
She also says that she was asked to offer her predecessor Neil Portnow a $750,000 consulting contract. Additionally, Portnow is accused of raping “a foreign recording artist (and member of the Academy).”
Joel Katz’ attorney has released a statement denying all claims against him. Variety notes that a major label CEO told them “It was a well-known fact that Joel Katz protected Neil Portnow for many years.”
Dugan was placed on administrative leave late Thursday — ten days before her first Grammy Awards — after the Academy accused her of misconduct against an unnamed employee. Her attorney, Bryan Freedman, disputed the claims in a statement.
The Grammys are still scheduled to take place this Sunday, January 26, on CBS.