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Grammys Slammed in NYT for Snubbing Bieber, Eminem

Executive Steve Stoute blasts the music recording academy for snubbing culturally relevant artists, even as they invite them to perform

The Grammys came in for a full-page of criticism in The New York Times for being out of touch with popular culture on Sunday as music producer and advertising executive Steve Stoute took out an ad slamming the music awards.

A week after voters in the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) snubbed Eminem, who is the best selling artist of the decade as well as having the best selling album of 2010 in "Recovery," and Justin Bieber in top categories in favor of lesser known artists, Stoute wrote: "How is it that Justin Bieber, an artist that defines what it means to be a modern artist, did not win Best New Artist?"

Stoute, who called himself a music executive for 20 years, wrote: "Does the Grammys intentionally use artists for their celebrity, popularity and cultural appeal when they already know the winners and then program a show against this expectatiion? Meanwhile the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences hides behind the 'peer' voting system to escape culpability for not even rethinking its approach.”

Stoute also said that the Grammys “snubbed year after year” the very artists best recognized by the public, including rewarding Herbie Hancock over Kanye West in 2008 and ignoring Eminem’s “Marshall Mathers LP” in 2001 in favor of Steely Dan.  

"Interesting that the Grammys understands cultural relevance when it comes to using Eminem's, Kanye West's or Justin Bieber's name in the billing to ensure viewership and to deliver the all too important ratings for its advertisers,” he writes.

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"What truly inspired the writing of this letter was that the most recent show fed my suspicions. As the show was coming to a close and just prior to presenting the award for Album of the Year, the band Arcade Fire performed 'Month of May' – only to… surprise… win the category, and in a moment of sheer coincidence, happened to be prepared to perform 'Ready to Start.'”

Stoute offered no hard evidence to support his accusation that the Grammys program the show to coordinate with the winners. The winners are meant to be discovered at the live, on-stage announcement by all but a handful of people.

The peer voting system, like the process of even getting in the running for a Grammy, is as layered as many of the songs up for the awards.

Each year, around late September, the Recording Academy invites about 150 member experts in each genre in the Grammys' 108 categories to assess which of the more than 12,000 initial entries it receives from members and labels are actually eligible for Grammys.

The so-called experts are chosen based on what area of the music industry qualifies them for membership  – producer, artist, songwriter, etc. These experts also make sure entries are submitted in the correct category. 

After they have culled down the entries, nomination ballots are mailed out to the general membership. All members vote in the four general categories of Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist. However, by only being allowed to vote in nine of the other 30 fields on the ballot, members are encouraged to vote only in their area of particular expertise.

After those votes have been added up and the top five in each category determined, the Academy has its final nominees. Then final ballots are mailed to Academy members. Again, everyone can vote in the big four general fields but in no more than eight of the 30 fields.

Steve Stoute founded Translation, an advertising company that has worked with Reebok, Target, State Farm, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, McDonalds, Beyonce and Nas.

Dominic Patten contributed to this report