The awards show that bills itself as the biggest night in music is going to have to draw an audience without some of music’s biggest names. The 2015 Grammy nominees were announced on ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday, and aside from the surprise that Kendrick Lamar’s sprawling opus “To Pimp a Butterfly” led the field with 11 nominations, TV advertisers had to sit and grumble once again about who wasn’t included among the nominees: Adele, Justin Bieber and One Direction.
Those three aren’t on the list because of a quirk in the Grammys’ calendar and nomination process. The Recording Academy's members were allowed to nominate and consider only recordings that were released between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sept. 30, 2015, which means albums like Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” and One Direction’s “Made in the A.M.,” which were released Nov. 13, and Adele’s “25,” which dropped Nov. 27, weren’t eligible for consideration.
Instead, some of the top albums eligible for honors in February came out last year. Taylor Swift’s “1989,” which was released Oct. 27, 2014, tied the Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” for the second-most nominations, with seven. Record and Song of the Year nominee "Thinking Out Loud," an Ed Sheeran song that briefly held the distinction of being the most-streamed song on Spotify, was included on "X," an album that came out in June 2014 (the single was released three months later).
Some have regarded the Grammys’ nominating window as curious because record labels often hold their highest-profile records until late October or November to capitalize on the holiday season. The final three months of the year have historically been the most wonderful time of the year for the recording industry, with some labels generating as much as 40 percent of their yearly revenues during that stretch.
Limiting itself to artists that are not top of mind for fans also puts the Grammys in a tough spot when it comes to ratings. Since a 2012 peak, the show’s numbers have been in decline. The 25 million people who tuned in to last year’s telecast was a six-year low, according to Nielsen, and it seems unlikely that this year’s cast of nominees will be able to drive a ratings recovery.
Even if the teen-pop stars listed above can be sneaked into February's telecast, it might not make much of a difference. This past summer, the MTV Video Music Awards, which featured Taylor Swift, One Direction, Justin Bieber, as well as a high-profile appearance from Kanye West, saw its ratings decline for a second consecutive year, despite MTV parent Viacom’s decision to broadcast the show on 10 channels simultaneously.