ACM’s Respond to Justin Moore’s “New Artist” Ineligibility

February 11, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  50 Comments

justin-mooreOn Tuesday the Academy of Country Music announced the finalists for their “New Artist of the Year” award to be given out an the ACM Awards on April 6th. By the results of fan voting, the eight-name list of nominees was narrowed down to three performers: Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore, and Justin Moore.

The announcement comes as questions continue to loom around the eligibility of Justin Moore for the “New Artist” nomination. As Saving Country Music first pointed out on February 5th with help from Windmills Country, Justin Moore was not eligible for the award according to the Academy of Country Music’s stated rules. According to the ACM, artists who’ve sold over 500,000 copies of any previously-released album are not eligible for the “new artist” award. Justin Moore has two such albums: Justin Moore from 2009 with 550,000 copies sold, and Outlaws Like Me from 2011 with 577,000 copies sold.

Subsequently, when this information was reported on by Windmills Country on Country 92.5′s “Electric Barnyard” show, representatives from Justin Moore’s label Valory Music—a imprint of Big Machine Records—contacted the radio station and asked them to take the audio down.

Also today, the Academy of Country Music’s President Bob Romeo responded to the calls for a clarification on Justin Moore’s eligibility in a story published on MusicRow.com. Bob Romeo states:

The Academy of Country Music Board of Directors – which I have been a part of for 25+ years – has a long history of supporting new country music acts. The Board finds that being in step with trends and acknowledging the country music landscape has improved our process and guaranteed the best candidates over the years. This decision is in line with our criteria, and the Board’s right to be flexible in our efforts to be inclusive vs. exclusive of a young artist who has had budding success. We have to remember that Justin is a new face to mainstream music fans, media, and the like. He has earned this nomination and we congratulate him and all ACM Award nominees, and look forward to celebrating their work at the Awards in April.

According to the Music Row story, though Justin Moore is in clear violation of the stated rules for the “New Artist of the Year” category, and the Academy of Country Music is not disputing that, they are citing another global stipulation in the rules to justify his nomination. The rule states:

The criteria and voting procedures are set forth by the ACM Board of Directors in accordance with the bylaws, and may be amended from time to time as the Board deems appropriate in the best interest of Country music. Any disputes shall be resolved by the Chairman of the Board in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order.

In other words, the Academy of Country Music reserves the right to amend their rules at any time, and that’s fine, and this is something Saving Country Music has stated in both its previous articles on this issue. However, the 500,000 copy rule has still yet to be amended. A check of the PDF of the ACM’s rules located on their website shows that the 500,000 copy provision is still listed, and no specific amendment that would make Justin Moore eligible for the “New Artist of the Year” award has been published.

Though the global provision allows the ACM’s rules to be “amended from time to time,” it doesn’t give anyone the right to break any rule. And though the global provision says that “Any disputes shall be resolved by the Chairman of the Board,” there is no disputing Justin Moore’s ineligibility. A “dispute” would only arise if there was an ambiguity or loophole in the rules that needed to be resolved or clarified—something that is not the case with this specific issue.

Furthermore, the Academy of Country Music set the precedent in 2009 of making rules amendments before nominees were announced, and even delaying the announcement of the nominees to allow the rule amendment to be drafted, finalized, and be entered into the public record.

This is an exact excerpt from Saving Country Music’s article posted yesterday (2-10) on this subject:

The eligibility rules for the awards are written by the Academy of Country Music, and there’s no reason they cannot change them if they see fit. If the ACM wanted to nominate Justin Moore for the 2014 awards cycle, they could have written out the 500,000 copy provision, or increased the amount of copies in the rule for Justin Moore to maintain his eligibility. Furthermore, the Academy of Country Music has a history of doing this very thing. In 2009, the ACM’s reduced the amount of copies an artist must sell to be eligible for the Album of the Year category to 300,000. The reason for this was so that Jamey Johnson’s critically-acclaimed album That Lonesome Song could be included in the nominees. More importantly, the ACM’s also delayed the announcement of the Album of the Year nominees that year while they finalized the rule change, making sure they did not violate their own rules by announcing their nominees too early.

Not only have the ACM’s yet to amended the “New Artist” rules, they did not delay the announcement to amend them. The reason this is important is because with the lack of a clear rules regime in place to create protocols around the eligibility of artists, there is the potential for improprieties and corruption to creep into the process.

Though the attempt at clarification by Bob Romero of the Academy of Country Music is appreciated, the issue of Justin Moore’s eligibility remains far from resolved, if Romero’s statements don’t raise further questions and concerns for country music fans. If the Academy of Country Music wants to make a rules amendment so that Justin Moore can become eligible for for the “New Artist of the Year” award, then that amendment must be made and entered into the public record.

But this would still not resolve the issue. Since the ACM’s made an exception to their stated rules by nominating Justin Moore in the first place, a deeper explanation of how that happened should be given, along with an accounting of how the rules regime transpired in the process, and why specifically Justin Moore was given the exception to make sure no improprieties or corruption occurred.

To the artists that have ACM Awards displayed prominently on their mantels or in their trophy cases, and to the fans of those artists that celebrate the wins every April, the reason these awards mean so much to them is because of the integrity the ACM’s have built around their awards during the organization’s 49 year history. The integrity of the process of how the ACM’s vet and select their nominees and winners is the very foundation for the prestigious weight these accolades hold. And if questions arise about the integrity of these rules, then so will questions about the importance or legitimacy of these awards. Nobody deserves to have an asterisk beside their ACM Award because of an oversight of the rules, including Justin Moore.

50 Comments to “ACM’s Respond to Justin Moore’s “New Artist” Ineligibility”

  • He says:

    “We have to remember that Justin is a new face to mainstream country music fans, media and the like”

    Excuse me? He had a #1 single in 2009 and several more hits in the next couple of years. This truly makes no sense and reeks of CYA after they got called out for doing a label a favor by nominating one of their lesser acts.

    What it is corruption.

  • You talk about this as if country music awards shows are still relevant.

    • Award shows may not be relevant to you, but don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re not relevant at all. Tell that to Kacey Musgraves who after her Grammy win sold 27,000 records, a sales jump of 177%.

      If you think that the ACM Awards and award shows in general are ridiculous and stupid, then this issue should be even more important to you, because with the ACM’s response and inaction, they are proving why that sentiment is legitimate.

      Also, since this is dealing with the New Artist category, this directly impacts independent artists who may be trying to grow their way to a sustainable music career, and we have seen specific names that fall into that distinction be recognized in this category in the past. And of course, one WASN’T recognized this year because an ineligible candidate was chosen instead.

      I don’t expect everyone to nerd out on this issue, but I truly believe this is an extremely, extremely important topic that effects everyone in the greater country music realm.

      • I understand where you’re coming from. I couldn’t agree more with what you said. I made my comment sarcastically as I have no use for contemporary country radio or those silly awards shows.

        I realize the masses don’t “get” Dale Watson, Sturgill Simpson and the like.

        • The masses don’t know about Dale Watson or Sturgill Simpson. That’s the problem.

        • I get the sense of why this concerns Trigger. If the mass found out about any underground artist, it will definitely boost his or her career. When the ACM violate their own policy they took away a spot that quite possibly could have gone to an underground artist. We want to remember that there are not enough of us here in the underground to contribute to the success that our artists deserves.

      • … sales jump by 177% – exactly the reason why the shows are just meant to be a commercial for record company’s artists. This bending of the rules is just further proof. Do not support ANY of these so called award shows. We shouldn’t address which pop country clown gets nominated for which bogus category. Wake me when they have an awards show for soldiers, firemen, and policemen.

        • I know right? like what kind of artist making a living with their music would ever want some stupid “boost in sales” with songs they’ve written? obviously they’re just sellouts and should tell the awards shows they’d rather sit at home and twiddle their thumbs instead of exposing their music to millions of people

          • i do agree with the police, fireman and parademic things though…they deserve a hell of a lot more than they get

          • I was commenting on the awards shows not artists. I could care less about artists who put out pop country simply for the sake of padding their wallets. I’m interested in preserving Country music, not burying it deeper with Awards Shows that do not reward the artists that deserve to see the 177% jump in sales. If the Awards Shows truly cared about the music and integrity of the genre, true country artists would be nominated. Try to keep up J.

        • just because someone wins an award does not mean that they’re singing pop country to pad their bank account…while it does happen there are lots of artists that stay true to their sound AND win awards (Alan Jackson, Kacey Musgraves, George Strait)

          • You’re correct. But its getting worse and worse. This article is all about the lack of integrity in these shows. If there was a backlash and lower ratings on these shows when they promote pop country, they’ll be forced to rethink their strategy. That’s a pipe dream I know, but we got to take a stand. I don’t want to see Justin Moore on these shows for the next 20 years. I want to see Sturgill Simpson…

          • Jamey Johnson is another recent one.

        • Music has always and will keep evolving, this phase will pass soon and I don’t think that it can get much worse than it is right now after hearing Tim McGraw (who made some old songs that I still do like) sing his new single which is the worst song I think I’ve heard in my life. And there’s enough good music from the past and current that we don’t have to listen to the shitty radio

      • Lets not throw roses at Kacey for her sales bump after the Grammy awards.
        Many performers had sales increases after the awards, especially those like Kacey who sold their music for $1.99 on iTunes, Amazon and Google. I don’t see practically giving your music away as any great achievement. I still haven’t drank the KM kool-aid.

        • It is a great achievement when you consider that is where most music is bought from now. When it comes to artists like Kacey the younger generation is who is buying most her music and that is where they buy their music. Same Trailer Diffrent Park went to number 1 in country. Downloads not CD’s or LPs although LPs are starting to come back among us because of the sound.

        • Not throwing any roses at Kacey. I’m simply pointing out that an awards show distinction has big financial ramifications for the artists involved.

  • Welp. Didn’t see this coming at all.

  • So no Kacey for new artist now. I know she doesn’t exactly fit the mold (fits requirements) the three finalist are a joke. Moore is just plain bad. eldrige has pretty good voice but sings stuff along the lines of james otto. And the other more just sucks. You can fill in which more where ever you want.

    • She’s one of the eight nominees

      • I think the article above said it was trimmed down to 3 by fan voting? Maybe I’m confused lol

        • Musgraves was one of the original 8 nominees that was voted on fans and then whittled down to 3 semi-finalists today. So she was a nominee, but she is no longer one. She was also the only woman out of the 8, which is another story.

          • Trigger,

            Thanks for clearing that up. It sucks she did not make the cut as i’m guessing they will only showcase those 3 at the actually awards.

  • They might as well go ahead and nominate Jethro Tull for ‘best new country artist’ as well.

  • So this better go to Brett Eldredge, a truly skilled singer and songwriter who had to sell out and record an album that’s half poppy shit just to get a goddamn record deal. Let’s hope he becomes popular enough to be himself, on future releases.

    Justin Moore is a fucking caricature of real, blue collar working folks with rural roots. Nobody is that much of a hick.

    Kip Moore is a clown who hasn’t released a good song since “Mary Was the Marryin’ Kind.”

    • None of these artists are Country, all three are pop wana be singers. It really doesn’t matter who wins they are all losers in the eyes of REAL Country music fans eyes.

      • Pop singer or not, if you can’t appreciate the very real vocal and songwriting talent that Brett Eldredge has, you aren’t being objective.

      • Brett has some skill. His song “Raymond” was great.

        • Skill or not its not Country music, I can definatly appreciate talent but I don’t appreciate imposters posing as something they are not.

          • When you are talking about the mainstreem country sceene. Brett is one of the better ones for the guys. He is more country than a lot of them. He can put feeling into his songs. He made “Raymond” work. The song has a great story and he was able to bring the feeling across as well.

          • Brett Eldredge is twice as country as the other two artists involved in this. At least he tells real stories and has some sort of songwriting background. Kip Moore is a fucking poster boy for fake country and Justin Moore tries so hard it’s fucking hilarious. Brett Eldredge’s album has none of the stupid tropes. I don’t think he even says the words “country” or “trucks” in any of the lyrics. They were just songs. They weren’t absurdly focused on any market.

  • Scott Borchetta said make it so and the ACM’s complied.

    I could never watch the ACM’s anyway as Blake Sheldon’s phony grin makes me want to punch my TV.

    • It was OK when Reba was still the host and he was just a lackey co-host.

      Now the combination of Blake and Luke Bryan as co-hosts is really hard to take.

  • It’s fine. Kacey Musgraves can win the “New Artist of The Year” award sometime in the next 5-7 years.

    • Country establishment doesn’t like Kacey. She sings about real life and things that the establishment would rather nobody sing about too much. You have to sing about it like Toby Keith in order for them to like you. My local country radio station music director sucks up to the establishment to the point of posting Luke Bryan butt pictures on Facebook constantly and talking up Aldean still refers to the “Gay Lobby” and stopped playing all of Kacey’s stuff as soon as “Follow Your Arrow” came out. This is in UPSTATE NEW YORK.

      • They stopped playing all her stuff the day after she performed on the CMA’s

      • I have to admit that I don’t get the Kacey Musgraves love. I thought maybe I was missing something since I’ve never seen her perform live. Then I caught her appearance on Austin City Limits. No stage presence at all. I can’t remember every seeing such a lack of energy from a young up & coming performer, particularly in such an artist-friendly venue as that one. And while she does have a pretty voice, all of her songs sounded exactly the same to my ears. She is a very talented songwriter, but her songs would be better served being performed by others. That’s just my opinion of course – your mileage may vary. ;)

        • She is better with smaller audiences and more intimatee settings where she can dictate the flow of whats going on . If you look at her older more small audience stuff on YouTube or where she is acoustic alone at a radio station or something she is better. She starts out with the story of why she wrote or co wrote the song and what it means to her and feeds better off the audience. She I think on the large stage has that sort of early Alan Jackson effect.

  • ACM’s will grant your wish and replace him with Florida Georgia Line.

  • ‘. . .there is the potential for improprieties and corruption to creep into the process.’

    ya THINK!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  • This is becoming the country music equivalent of PEDs in baseball.

    • I agree. And the next question would be, is there potentially any legal ramifications that could be faced? If Justin Moore wins but is ineligible by the ACM’s own rules, whoever comes in second place has a serious grievance on their hands. This award means a lot of money to an artist and label.

      • I think it’s unlikely that another label would take any legal action, since it could well expose their own efforts to game the system. My guess is that if anything happens at all, it would be in the form of a whistle blower from inside either the ACM, one of the labels, or one of the management companies.

        • At this point in this whole deal I would think that it’s most likely that one of the other two finalists is almost certain to win because the negative publicity to the ACM would only increase if Justin Moore actually won the award. And since the entire thing seems to be a make it up as they go the rules be damned operation I’m sure they will just award it to one of the others.

  • Other than seeing Justin Moore’s name mentioned here. I don’t know him or his songs and probably will keep it that way.

  • I am a voting member of the ACM’s and this angers me to no end. They haven’t even re-written the rules here… they’ve totally ignored them, voiding any integrity the organization had in my mind. If they blatantly ignore their rules, what else are they doing? Does my vote even count? My whole organization pays a lot of money to be members of the ACM and have all our employees be voting members. But if they’re going to blatantly ignore the rules and who knows what else, why are we paying that money? Makes me rethink our strategy and partnership with the ACM organization as a whole.

    • Speaking as an Outsider (snicker) . . .

      My expectation is that the ‘lesser’ awards the ACM hands out (Guitarist of the Year, and the like) are un-fixed. I would expect the ACM members’ votes do fully count in those cases.

      But as far as the ‘Marquee Awards’ the ACM hands out, (everything through Song of the Year on the ACM voting criteria table of contents)?? Previous results indicate to me that tampering is probably the norm. Your vote probably counts much less, if at all, for these categories.

      If I were an ACM member, I would lead a boycott of all the ‘Marquee’ awards. Just vote on the rest. Those are the only ones that matter to professional musicians anyway.

      2 cents.

  • What a crock. No surprise Justin made the final 3 with his unfair advantage of being an older more well-known artist with higher sales and more fans to vote. Isn’t the 500,000 album sales limit in place to prevent older more popular artists from having an unfair voting advantage? He also blocked a deserving new artist out of the final 3. It woud be difficult and awkward for the actual new artists who were excluded by Justin’s nomination to dispute it. Cassadee and Danielle are on the same label with him and maybe Charlie Worsham is another. Justin should refuse his bogus nomination and let a deserving new artist have it. Redo the whole thing.

  • […] A case in point is Justin Moore. With three albums and some No. 1 singles, the Arkansas native might not be what you’d consider new by industry standards. But for many country fans, he’s still a fresh face on the scene. (Call it my girly side, but I’ve never found anything wrong with being called a “fresh face.”) […] Does the timeline of an artist’s big breakthrough really matter anymore? Does it matter how long they’ve been in Nashville or on the road? Does it matter how long it takes them to get that first hit — to nail that nomination — to be considered established and not a fresh face? I think not. ● – – CMT’s Samantha Stephens, completely missing the point that the ACM is flagrantly ignoring its own criteria for New Artist of the Year to put Justin Moore in the category. Saving Country Music has more. […]

    • In response to that, fine. If that is your opinon, so be it. But if so, let’s call a duck a duck and rename it the “Fresh Face Award” or the “Breakthrough Artist” award. Don’t simply put lipstick on the proverbial pig to suit your purposes. When you do that, you lose credibility….not that Scott Borschetta and the powers that be in Nashville care about that at all.

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