The Grammy Award, or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The trophy depicts a gilded gramophone. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the first and biggest award of the Big Three networks’ major music awards held annually.
The Grammys had their origin in the Hollywood Walk of Fame project in the 1950s. As the recording executives chosen for the Walk of Fame committee worked at compiling a list of important recording industry people who might qualify for a Walk of Fame star, they realized there were many more people who were leaders in their business who would not earn a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
The first award ceremony was held simultaneously in two locations on May 4, 1959 – Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills California, and Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City, and 28 Grammys were awarded. The number of awards given grew and fluctuated over the years with categories added and removed, at one time reaching over 100.
The gold-plated trophies, each depicting a gilded gramophone, are made and assembled by hand by Billings Artworks in Ridgway, Colorado. In 1990, the original Grammy design was revamped, changing the traditional soft lead for a stronger alloy less prone to damage, making the trophy bigger and grander. Billings developed a zinc alloy named grammium, which is trademarked. The trophies with the recipient’s name engraved on them are not available until after the award announcements, so stunt trophies are re-used each year for the broadcast.
Entry process and selection of nominees
Media companies registered with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and individual members of NARAS may enter recordings for consideration. Entries are made online and a physical copy of the work is sent to NARAS. Once a work is entered, reviewing sessions are held, involving more than 150 experts from the recording industry, to determine whether the work is entered in the correct category.
The resulting lists of eligible entries are circulated to Voting Members, each of whom may vote to nominate in the general fields 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, while in some categories there are review committees in place that determine the final 5 nominees. There may be more than five nominees if there is a tie in the nomination process.
After nominees have been determined, final voting ballots are sent to NARAS voting members, who may then vote in the general fields and in no more than nine of the 30 fields. 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.
In both voting rounds, Academy members are required to vote based upon quality alone, and not 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 and their member community. Although registered media companies may submit entries they may not vote in either round of voting.
In many categories, certificates are awarded to those who are not eligible for a Grammy statuette but who did contribute to the winning recording. These certificates are known as Participation Certificate or Winners Certificate. Those who are eligible for a certificate can apply for one in the weeks following the annual Grammy ceremony.
TV broadcasts and ratings
Prior to the first live Grammys telecast in 1971 on ABC, a series of filmed annual specials in the 1960s called The Best on Record were broadcast on NBC. The first Grammy Award telecast took place on the night of November 29, 1959, as an episode of the NBC anthology series NBC 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.
The Recording Academy announced on June 21, 2011, that it had reached a new deal with CBS to keep the awards show on the network for another 10 years. As part of the new contract, the network would also air a nominations concert special in the last week of November where the nominees are released during the special that is exclusive to CBS, rather than the traditional early-morning press conference with a release of the nominations seen with most major awards ceremonies which any network takes as part of a press pool.
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