Grammy Voters
Adele, photographed with her five Grammy Awards at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 12, 2017, 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? Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

It's music's biggest night, and fans tune in by the thousands to see if their favorite artists will take home big awards. However, while they get to have a say when it comes to most other music award shows, the Grammy's are the ones that fans don't get to have a say in when it comes to who wins big.

While artists with big fandoms can win, the passionate and loyal fanbase isn't the thing that leads to Grammy gold. To win the prestigious award, an artist has to actually impress a prestigious group known as the Recording Academy, who actually get together and cast their votes for the winners.

But who exactly are the people in this academy, and how are the votes actually calculated? Here's a breakdown of the Recording Academy and their voting process:

Who Is In The Recording Academy?

Members of the group include singers, songwriters, engineers, producers, managers and a wide range of other professionals working in the music industry. To qualify as a voting member, a prospective applicant must have either 12-qualifying digital or six qualifying physical tracks or equivalent duration of content, with at least one qualifying track released within five years of applying. Those who have also been nominated for a Grammy Award within the previous five years of applying are also eligible to join.

However, membership is not free. Those wishing to be voting members must also pay $100 for a one-year membership in the academy. The same fee applies for those applying as associate members. Those applying to be student members pay a $50 fee.

Does Anyone Else Get To Vote?

According to the Recording Academy, no. Only voting members are allowed to vote. In addition, during the final rounds of voting, only members who are currently in good standing with their membership dues can cast a vote.

How Do They Decide Who Wins?

The voting process reportedly takes place in five steps:

  • Submission is first, and involves Recording Academy members and record companies entering recordings and music videos released during the period of eligibility which they consider worthy of recognition for the process.
  • Screening: Following submission, reviewing sessions by more than 350 experts in various fields are held to ensure that the submissions meet specific qualifications and are placed in the appropriate fields and categories for the next rounds.
  • Nominating: First-round ballots are sent to voting members who are in good standing with their dues. They can only vote within their areas of expertise and may only vote in up to 15 categories in the genre fields, as well as the four general categories of Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist. In more specialized categories, final nominations are determined by national nomination review committees made up of voting members from The Academy's Chapter cities.
  • Final Voting: After first round votes are tabulated, final-round ballots are then sent to voting members in good standing. This ballot also includes the finalists determined by the special nominating committees. Members once again vote in up to 15 categories in the genre fields, as well as the four general categories, before the votes are once again tallied by an independent accounting firm.
  • Results: The results are revealed during the live telecast of the awards, when they are presented in sealed envelopes throughout the show.

The Grammy Awards air live Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. EST on CBS.