Kanye West
Kanye West, photographed at the 48th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2006, is among the most recognized artists in the award show’s history — but who is it that decides who wins and how do they come to that conclusion? Getty Images

Year after year hundreds of thousands of music fans tune in to watch the Grammy Awards in the hopes of seeing their favorite artists crowned a winner. Although much of the music industry is dependent on fans, the Grammys aren’t decided by the people.

A prestigious group, dubbed the Recording Academy, gets together and casts their votes in each category based on a variety of factors each year. The Academy is made up of a number of people, including industry professionals in various positions in the business.

Confused? Here’s a breakdown of the Recording Academy and their voting process:

Who Is The Recording Academy?

Members of this group include vocalists, songwriters, sound engineers, producers and more. To qualify, hopeful members should have a minimum of six creative or technical credits on commercially released tracks on a physical release or 12 on a digital album.

There is also a price to pay to be in the Recording Academy. Members are asked to pay $100 a year and must be in good standing on their dues to remain active. Those not meeting these requirements are not excluded from applying to be voting members. They may apply with the endorsement of two current members of the Recording Academy.

Who Else Votes?

In some categories, including record of the year, song of the year, best new artist and more, a nominations review committee and craft committee are asked to cast their votes in addition to the votes of the Recording Academy.

The craft committee is the only committee that votes on some categories. Those categories include package album notes, remixed recording and others.

Although the craft committee and nominations review committee are pulled in to vote on some decisions, the final say rests in the hands of the Academy.

How Do They Decide Who Wins?

The Grammy voting process is broken up into several stages. During each stage members of the Recording Academy are tasked with making difficult decisions about who deserves to be in each category and, finally, which one artist of the many named should win.

  • The first of those stages in submission, which is when Recording Academy members submit songs and music videos for consideration. Each submission must be from that year. The Recording Academy requires that each submission is commercially released by a record label or recognized independent distributor, online, via mail or retail.
  • The second step is screening, which is when 150 experts in different related fields review each submission and ensure that it’s in the category it belongs.
  • Step three is nomination, during which voting members of the Academy get their first round ballots and pick five entries for each category. They vote only in the areas in which they are considered experts and record, album, and song of the year and best new artist.
  • The second to last step is final voting. In this stage, each member of the Academy gets a second ballot and casts their votes for the finalist in each category.
  • Next, the results are revealed. Winners names are sealed in envelopes and revealed during the big show.

Tune in to the Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.