Justin Moore Should Be Disqualified from ACM’s “New Artist”
For years, country music and other award shows throughout the industry have been making an aberration of the term “new” when nominating and naming their “New Artist of the Year” awards. Many times the nominees and winners have spent half a decade or more in the music business, and not just as an independent artist slogging through the honky tonks waiting on a deal, but signed to major labels, releasing charting singles and albums, and appearing on industry tours.
The spirit of “New Artist” awards is to help cultivate new talent in the industry, giving the nominees and the winner a hand up in their career. But as we have seen more and more well-established artists crashing the “New Artist” nominee lists over the last few years, it is beginning to become a default category for second-tier industry talent that can’t cut it with the other major awards, but that labels still want to showcase in the awards format.
Such can said to be the case when the Academy of Country Music, or ACM Awards announced their candidates for New Artist of the Year for 2014. The ACM fielded a list of eight candidates, with fans voting on who the final 3 candidates will be. Included in that list are artists like Lee Brice, who signed with Curb Records seven years ago, and Kip Moore, whose been signed to MCA for five. But the most quizzical inclusion to the ACM’s list of “new” artists is Big Machine Records’ Justin Moore.
Forget that Justin Moore signed to Big Machine’s Valory Music imprint in 2008, that he had a #1 single in 2009, and a #1 album in 2011; as first pointed out by Windmills Country, according to the Academy of Country Music’s specifically-stated rules of eligibility for the “New Artist” category, Justin Moore should be disqualified because he’s had not one, but two albums certified gold in previous years—gold albums denoting over 500,00 copies sold.
Here are the eight initial nominees for the ACM New Artist of the Year:
- Lee Brice
- Brett Eldredge
- Tyler Farr
- Justin Moore
- Kip Moore
- Kacey Musgraves
- Thomas Rhett
Though the ACM’s annual naming of performers as “New Artist” nominees may or may not pass the eyeball test, there are actually established rules that govern these matters just to make sure no impropriety takes place.
The rule for the ACM New Artist of the Year specifically states:
This award is presented to an outstanding male vocalist, female vocalist, vocal duo or vocal group in the country music industry who gains either initial fame or significantly greater recognition through their efforts during the prior calendar year of November 29, 2012 to November 27, 2013. The artist(s) must have success in digital media; in addition to having charted a single in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Country Airplay (BDS) or Country Aircheck (Mediabase) country charts; and/or selling 100,000 album units reflected in Nielsen SoundScan during the qualifying period. The top eight (8) vote getters determined by a nomination ballot, subject to the approval of the Board, will be considered semi-finalists, with the final three (3) nominees being determined by a combination of votes from the ACM professional membership and fan voting (online). The winner is determined by a combination of votes from the ACM professional membership and fan voting (online).
Okay cool, so nothing in those rules specifically disqualifies Justin Moore, or any other artist from this year’s nominee list. But it is the second provision to the New Artist category that unequivocally disqualifies Justin Moore two times over.
Any solo artist that has sold 500,000 copies of a previously released album (with general exclusions of specialty albums, such as seasonal or live recordings) according to Nielsen SoundScan, are not eligible for this category.
Unfortunately for Justin, his name is on two separate albums that can’t jump this hurdle: His self-titled Justin Moore album released on August 11th, 2009 that has been certified gold with 550,000 copies sold, and Outlaws Like Me released on June 21st, 2011 that has been certified gold with 577,000 copies sold.
In other words, by the Academy of Country Music’s own stated rules, Justin Moore should be disqualified from the 2014 New Artist of the Year Nominee pool.
So the next question would be, how was Justin Moore nominated in the first place? How was this rule overlooked? Did some impropriety transpire between Justin Moore’s label and the Academy of Country Music? Who would have been nominated in Justin Moore’s stead? And is the damage already done, even if Justin Moore is disqualified because of the increased exposure another candidate would have received upon the announcement of the nominees?
And the most important question is, what will the Academy of Country Music to resolve this gross oversight?
February 5, 2014 @ 9:35 am
What a sham. I remember Eric Church was nominated for the same category in 2011 even though he’d just released his third album and both his previous 2 (the first being released in 2006) sold over 500,000 copies with plenty of top 10 singles released over those 5 years
February 5, 2014 @ 9:57 am
I don’t know if the rules were the same back in 2011 as they are now, but if the ACM wants to nominate these type of artists, why wouldn’t they at least change the rules? They’re their rules. They can do with them whatever they want. But by breaking them, they are basically bringing up the charge of impropriety and illegitimacy across their entire platform.
I keep waiting for a piece of information to show up that makes me look like a fool for broaching this subject; some wrinkle in the rules that let’s Justin Moore in. But I’m not seeing it. Anywhere. I mean, what the hell is going on here? Why was there some gross exception in the rules made for Justin Moore, and why is this issue not being examined in more places? To me, this is downright scandalous. How is anyone supposed to take the ACM’s seriously, or have any confidence that their system is fair when they’re clearly breaking their own rules. I’m shocked.
February 5, 2014 @ 9:36 am
Didn’t they give it to Pat Green a few years back after over a decade and a half-dozen albums?
February 5, 2014 @ 10:03 am
According to the ACM rules, even if an artist has been around for a long time, that doesn’t necessarily disqualify them as long as they still fit within the eligibility requirements. If Pat Green hadn’t had a gold record, and had never been nominated for a bigger award, and had a significant increase in sales or chart performance in his career, he would still be eligible.
But with Justin Moore, he clearly doesn’t qualify from the stated requirements, beyond the simple eyeball test of not really being a “new” artist.
I’m blown away here. I’m not sure how something like this happens.
February 5, 2014 @ 9:48 am
The most disturbing thing about that list to me is the almost complete lack of any females on it (1 out of 8).
Otherwise, I don’t care what Luke Bryan or FGL clone wins.
February 5, 2014 @ 10:26 am
Even more disturbing is who is on the list. Kacey Musgraves is the only talented one of the group, the rest are skin puppet donkey bonkers!
February 5, 2014 @ 10:54 am
I’d give Kip Moore a little credit for the “Hey Pretty Girl Song”. I liked the lyrics on that one. It also has half a million single sales and he co-wrote it.
Some of the other crap he sings though makes him hard to take.
February 5, 2014 @ 6:47 pm
I voted for Musgraves but it apparently was not enough to hold back the bro-country sleaze
February 5, 2014 @ 10:07 am
Well, they’ve been making a mockery of country music in general for a long time now; it’s not surprising they’d make a mockery of the award process.
February 5, 2014 @ 10:39 am
Moot point…Kacey Musgrave walks away with this award hands down.
Gosh, look at that list… besides Kacey (who is tolerable and talented) the rest are complete fools.
February 5, 2014 @ 10:47 am
So it’s a moot point that institutions should follow their own stated rules?
And I don’t know that it’s a forgone conclusion Kacey Musgraves walks away with this, specifically because Justin Moore is included in this category.
And this is not all about the winner. A nomination for one of these awards can mean a significant boost in sales for these artists. If Justin Moore is not qualified, then someone else missed out on that opportunity.
February 8, 2014 @ 9:29 am
no point is not moot. hell a lot of these can even be called “artists” let alone “new”
February 8, 2014 @ 9:42 am
oops i meant can’t be , point being its an opinion. obviously the opinion here is that they wanted to give this guy an award. Sorta like “honorable mention” or “most popular” or “cutest couple” y’know shit in a high school yearbook that was given space and some of the in crowd may look back with sentmentality but really have no basis on thing that are really important like ;talent, insight integrity, character, honesty.
an award should be earned not just given.
February 5, 2014 @ 10:51 am
Wasn’t Kacey Musgraves nominated a bunch of times last year at the ACM’s? In pretty major categories too. She’s another one that should be disqualified.
February 5, 2014 @ 10:57 am
Yes, she was nominated for Female Vocalist. But because she didn’t win, she is not ineligible. Also you can be nominated for New Artist multiple times, though at some point there is a cap on that as well.
That’s the thing with these rules. There’s more loopholes in them than a pair of military boots. But somehow the ACM still found a way to break them with Justin Moore.
Even though on a personal level, I’d rather see Kacey Musgraves win this category, in my opinion, she shouldn’t qualify for this either. She is already a well-established artist. Give this distinction to someone who can really use the exposure and better the genre. This is the spirit of the award.
February 5, 2014 @ 11:09 am
I know “Same Trailor Differen’t Park” was technically her first album (the first major label album and the first one to chart). But, I’m confused as to how she could be nominated for best female vocalist and best album BEFORE her album came out. When the ACM awards were given out last year, her album wasn’t a month old yet.
Stuff like that really makes me wonder if all the nominations that happen are bought and paid for marketing tools and nothing more.
February 5, 2014 @ 11:53 am
It seems like a couple of changes to the eligibility requirements would solve all of this. First, if you have previously released a major label album then you are not eligible regardless of the sales of that album. The second, which doesn’t apply this year but has in the past is if you are a member of a band with a lot of success that goes solo. Darius Rucker I believe was nominated or maybe even won this in the past after being in a hugely popular band and someone like Randy Owen would have been eligible if had gone solo during Alabama’s big run.
I think the sales threshold is good though because of the relative ease, because of technology in recording your own record for relatively little money.
Or they could do what the CMA used to do and call this the Horizon Award which didn’t require you to be a new artist but instead was based on making substantial career growth whether artistically or through sales or airplay.
But I definitely think Brice, J. Moore and K. Moore should not be on this list for new artist.
February 5, 2014 @ 12:47 pm
I think you should only have one chance to be nominate for this category. I’m sure they worry about if they don’t have enough recognizable artists to fit the category. Who cares! That would be something cool for this award is have it go to an upcoming artist that no one really knows or has heard that much about. I don’t even think Kacey should be nominated, it makes no sense that an artist can be nominated in 3 categories at an awards show and then one year later at the same awards be nominated for best new artist. This category is normally a joke with how they do the nominations.
February 5, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
While I totally understand the sentiment, I think this post and the ACM predictions post can end up drawing even more attention to the very artists that the labels are trying to draw attention to. So I’d be far more interested to see coverage here tilted more towards the artists you feel the ACA ought to have nominated instead.
February 5, 2014 @ 4:43 pm
I appreciate your concern. And for some of the articles I write, I can understand how it could be warranted. But this is no regular issue.
A lot of people believe that promoting music is the point, or should be the point, and the only point, of Saving Country Music. Though this is certainly one of the primary functions of this website, the fundamental, founding function of Saving Country Music is as an industry watchdog. And that is why if I had to scale the importance of this particular article and subject on a scale of 1 to 100—1 being of little to no importance to the charter of this site, and 100 being the absolute most important thing to the charter of this site—I would grade it at 100.
I think this is a massive, massive issue, that speaks to the systemic problems, if not downright corruption inherent in the awards system of country music. An institution purposefully circumventing their own rules—rules that they can write however they wish—shows that there are much deeper things at hand, and the country music public should demand answers. In my opinion, this may be the biggest single industry issue country music may face in 2014.
And if I inadvertently “promote” Justin Moore or anyone else by covering it, those are unintended consequences I can’t worry about. Because NOT covering it would be downright irresponsible.
February 5, 2014 @ 5:01 pm
Ah, makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.
I don’t disagree that this issue is worth covering. I am simply saying I would have preferred the coverage to have spent more time discussing better alternatives to Justin Moore and less time on Moore himself.
February 5, 2014 @ 2:39 pm
Look at the pipes on that stud.
February 5, 2014 @ 2:43 pm
This reminds me of the whole debacle with the Opry and members not paying their dues but still being allowed to remain members. Why is it that the declining quality of the music has a correlation with the declining quality of the organizations that govern it? Oh wait, I just answered my own question.
February 5, 2014 @ 4:49 pm
One thing I’ll say about The Opry is that they’ve sort of made their own bed by being ambiguous about what exactly the rules are, and by making a precedent of not enforcing them.
In the case of the ACM’s, the rules are spelled out clearly, as they have to be for something like this to hold any legitimacy. For all intents and purposes this is a competition, and what defines the competition is the rules.
February 5, 2014 @ 2:58 pm
Who are all of these acronym organizations (ACM, CMA)?
It’s tough enough to keep up with the WWF and WWE and other offshoot sponsoring bodies.
Life was a lot simpler without them.
And their representative artists are a bunch of vapid country pop stars.
February 5, 2014 @ 4:19 pm
Actually, this is a good question. The way it was explained to me once was CMA was Nashville and ACM was out of California. But what, besides, locale is the difference between the two? Inquiring minds would like to know, too.
February 5, 2014 @ 5:01 pm
There are many fundamental differences between the CMA’s and the ACM’s. I could write a whole article on this, but long story short, the CMA is a big organization made up of radio people, industry personalities, and others to help promote and further country music. The CMA picks the inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame for example.They generally set industry standards for country music. The award show is just one element to what the CMA does.
The ACM’s on the other had are primarily an awards show, created to produce a television event. It was started by Dick Clark, for example. The old thought about the ACM was that it was started because the CMA was unfair to West Coast artists ala The Bakersfield Sound, but very shortly after it started, it became nationally-focused.
It would be easy to say that the ACM’s don’t matter. And though I would agree they don’t matter as much as the CMA’s, it still means a tremendous amount to the artists that are nominated, that win, or that perform. A nomination can make or break a career, and that is why these things are so important, especially in the New Artist category where you’re dealing with talent looking to make it to the next level.
If many of the artists we love would ever find a break in the industry, it would likely be through the New Artist category. But if an established artists like Justin Moore continue to take these spots, it will never happen.
February 5, 2014 @ 5:33 pm
Thanks for the explanation. You were one of the people who turned me on to Jason Isbell. I bought his album, Southeastern, last month without hearing a note saw him Monday night in Cincinnati with Holly Williams opening. I don’t ever remember a better concert. Ever.
February 6, 2014 @ 9:27 am
Thanks for the explanation.
By analogy, NASCAR has pretty tight restrictions as to qualifying for the Rookie of the Year.
As a result, you don’t see a racer in competition who you have previously seen a lot of in races.
I don’t know who Justin Moore is, but I have tripped over his section in the CD bins for several years now.
February 5, 2014 @ 3:08 pm
I think Lee Brice has been around even longer than Justin and has a few hits under his belt. The fact they don’t set any kind of time frame on this award makes it pretty meaningless. This is obviously just a way labels can gain greater visibility for artists who probably don’t deserve it.
On the other hand there might be a special ACM rule that says male country singers under 5 feet tall get multiple shots at this award to compensate for all the bullying they had to endure back in school…
February 5, 2014 @ 8:44 pm
He (Brice) was around as a songwriter but I don’t think he had any “hits” nor anything that sold over 500,000 copies. Please correct me if I am wrong…
As for the talent in the group. I agree on Musgraves, but I do think there is a glimmer of potential and hope in Brice. “I Drive Your Truck” was at least a song that was deep and required more than 3 brain cells. And I like a few of his other songs. I just hope he stays true to who he is as a songwriter and doesn’t stray away.
Parmalee is wrong and admit they are crossover. So kind of weird there. The rest of them are Aldean/Bryan/FGL wanna-bes (imho).
February 6, 2014 @ 11:48 am
I just looked it up. “Hard 2 Love” went Gold.
February 6, 2014 @ 12:00 pm
There is a date restriction/time frame as well. They likely went gold in the window that was allowed. More recently to, I would assume.
February 6, 2014 @ 12:11 pm
Though you’re probably right I wouldn’t go so far as to assume they would disqualify one artist (Lee Brice) because he went Gold outside of that window when they are blatantly ignoring another artist (Justin Moore) who clearly went Gold inside said window.
sweet on stuart
February 5, 2014 @ 6:07 pm
All I can say is Lee Brice had better get his lawyers together and try to break with Curb, if he’s still with them. Good luck.
February 6, 2014 @ 6:10 am
The meat of the ACM appears to be in the Directors-at-Large category. I wonder how much influence they exert on the ‘review committee’, and ‘Professional Panel’ mentioned in the linked document.
The nominees that come out of this don’t seem to be in line with what I would expect the ‘professional membership’ to vote on. And momma always told me when when it don’t taste right somebody’s been monkeying with the ingredients.
February 6, 2014 @ 11:49 am
From the small amount of research I’ve done, Lee Brice’s “Hard 2 Love” went Gold as well.
February 6, 2014 @ 11:53 am
Here’s a link to one article, however credible it may be…
Apparently, they’re contradicting their own rules on several fronts.
February 6, 2014 @ 11:58 am
That is for a song, and for downloads as opposed to album sales, so that specifically would not disqualify him. Again, probably doesn’t fit the spirit of a “new” artist, but I’m not quite sure yet if Lee Brice was a specific rules violation.
February 6, 2014 @ 12:07 pm
Yeah, just saw that and came back to clarify. That’s why the journalistic integrity is your responsibility. We just get to come on and throw out any false and inaccurate information we want and it spreads like wildfire. Thanks for keeping me in line, Trig.
February 6, 2014 @ 12:18 pm
Ha! As a one man operation, I appreciate folks out there looking for clues and facts as well, and I can’t tell you how many story tips and ideas I get from readers, so no worries. I still want to find the actual date Lee’s album went gold just to be sure, but really, if they’re not going to honor their rule with Justin Moore, why would they honor it for Brice? Hell, why don’t they just nominate whoever the labels decide they want? That is why this issue is so important.
February 6, 2014 @ 11:55 am
However it MAY have not been gold yet during the eligibility period which is November 29, 2012 to November 27, 2013. If it didn’t go gold until after November 27th, 2013 he would still qualify.
I am trying to run down the specific weekly numbers. At the moment it looks like he might have squeezed just barely in, but it is very, very close.
February 6, 2014 @ 8:25 pm
I’d dig a lot of this guy’s music if he’d just drop the fake twang. People from Georgia have thick drawls but it ain’t that bad.
He’s got such a bad case of Small Guy Syndrome. Constant overcompensation.
February 6, 2014 @ 11:09 pm
When the ACMs changed the rule to include Jamey Johnson’s That Lonesome Song for Album of the Year they made an official announcement and delayed nominations:
Justin’s inclusion looks shady and appears to have been done under the table, on the sly, or whatever. I guess Big Machine finagled him in there. Unless other labels and artists were given the same exception.
“We want to be inclusive and fair, and I think this change shows that if we feel something”™s not right, we”™re not afraid to change it,” says Romeo.
I hope they aren’t afraid to fix this then.
If the ACMs are making exceptions to rules for men or even if/when they aren’t, they should also make sure all solo females with critically acclaimed albums country radio didn’t play qualify for New Artist, Female Vocalist, Album of the Year, etc. nominations. There is no one working in the industry who isn’t aware of the gross injustice of country radio not playing most solo females and the fact that with rare exception no one can sell much or garner enough votes when radio is unfairly not playing them.
As I mentioned here https://www.savingcountrymusic.com/2014-acm-awards-nominees-preview-predictions country radio robs most women of airplay so they can”™t get nominated and that”™s why 4 of 5 album slots went to men. Kellie Pickler (The Woman I Am) and Ashley Monroe (Like A Rose) were completely robbed at radio and therefore robbed of Female Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, song and video nominations. Kellie has already been nominated for New Artist twice each at the ACMs and CMAs and should have been moved up to the bigger vocalist and album categories years ago. That didn’t happen mostly because radio didn’t play her #1-worthy songs to #1 plus she was with Sony and they had quite a few other top talented solo females to lobby and block vote for (Carrie, Martina, Miranda, Clarkson). Ashley should at least be nominated for New Artist.
It appears the ACMs have dropped the Album of the Year sales requirement. It was 300,000. What is it now, zero? When they lowered or waived it for Jamey’s That Lonesome Song after radio played one single to #9 that got him the votes and nominations. However most solo females face a much greater problem of radio keeping them out of the top 20, 30, 40, and 50. So more needs to be done to help them, mainly radio play them, and until then the ACMs and CMAs should create a special category(ies) just to recognize them. Because it’s absurd that an artist can make the best, most critically acclaimed album of the year or close and that album not get one top 20 at radio, album or vocalist nomination just because she’s labeled a “solo female” instead of a solo male, duo, or group. Great job, country radio. This also goes for the New Artist category since radio didn’t play some to top 40 and they can’t sell 100,000 albums without a top 20.
February 7, 2014 @ 12:23 am
Good find on the Jamey Johnson delay. This is certainly worth noting, and shows a precedent the ACM’s set in that case that could have ramifications here.
THe country music industry is unable to develop female talent at the moment, and one big key to this are these “New Artist” distinctions. When they only include 1 female and ineligible candidates, the system is broken.
February 7, 2014 @ 10:59 am
If Big Machine finagled Justin into New Artist this also begs the question, why didn’t they do the same for either of their new females Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery? Cassadee’s album released October 8, 2013 and Danielle’s November 25, 2013 and both are selling well because they have top 10-20 airplay and a lot of TV time on The Voice etc. Was neither in the radio top 40 or sold 100,000 by November 27? I see Cassadee’s single was #14 and Danielle’s #22 on Mediabase on 11/26/2013 so it looks like both qualified:
Even if they didn’t why didn’t the ACMs and Big Machine get them in there like they did for Justin? Maybe they are too new and didn’t get enough votes but if Justin wasn’t shoehorned in maybe one of them could have gotten the votes and we’d have 2 females instead of 1? Or maybe the slot would’ve gone to another male or group but maybe not with men already taking up 7 slots. What other new male or group is left? And what about Sheryl Crow, she’s one of few solo females radio played to top 20 last year and “Easy” hit #17? Why is she nominated for Female Vocalist but not New Artist? Strange. Thanks to Justin Moore and Big Machine? Why didn’t the ACMs have separate male, female and group New Artist categories?
My picks to win are Lee Brice or Kacey Musgraves since they are clearly the best of this bunch but I hate to see any women getting robbed. Radio played the other 9 men past Kacey and other far more talented women with better songs. They kept Kellie Pickler’s 10th and 11th singles around #50 and other solo females out of the top 20, 30, 40 while they played weaker vocals/debut singles from these brand new men to #1.
February 7, 2014 @ 12:18 pm
The reason Justin Moore was included in this category is because he’s been continually falling between the country music award show cracks since he started in the industry 7 years ago, and there’s a thought out there that he’s been treated unfairly, has never won any awards and doesn’t get to perform, despite releasing two gold records and having a few #1 hits. He’s talked about this numerous times in interviews:
So my guess is there was an insistence, probably by Big Machine, to at least include his name somewhere this year. They are just trying to do right by their artist, but they did wrong by the rules, and a correction should be made.
February 7, 2014 @ 12:38 pm
Chris, I know this is a big issue for you but I think you gloss over one of the main reasons why more women are not getting airplay on country radio. The listeners just aren’t connecting with this current group of women for some reason. And remember females are the core group of country radio listeners but if you look at almost any of the various listener call out research the singles by women almost always have higher ‘dislike’ and ‘strongly dislike’ numbers than the men do even some of the god awful crap we mock here. So I don’t think these programmers are on some anti-country female kick I think they are reacting to the feedback from their listeners. Do I think many of the current women deserve airplay? Yes I do but for what ever reason the larger audience disagrees with us and until that changes I wouldn’t expect much to change.
An article from this week touches on this issue and pay particular attention to the PD quoted near the end.
February 26, 2014 @ 12:32 pm
I don’t care how the ACM tries to “explain” that it’s okay for Justin to be nominated. He is NOT a new artist, period.
I liked Justin, but not anymore. Kenny Chesney was nominated the same way Justin was and he told them to take his name off the ballot because he wasn’t “new” and didn’t think it was right. Justin should take a lesson. It just makes him look desperate for attention and awards. He should not be nominated in this category. If the ACM’s think he is that good, why don’t they put him on the ballot for male artist then? Yeah….exactly. What a load of crap.
My predictions for the 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards | My Kind of Country
April 4, 2014 @ 5:00 am
[…] Justin Moore Should Be Disqualified from ACM”™s “New Artist” […]
April 27, 2014 @ 11:16 pm
Justin Moore2Justin Moore will wrap up his Off the Beaten Path Tour this Saturday. He”™s been out on the tour since the 1st of November and Justin says, “When the tour wraps up we”™ll take a couple of weeks off and then we”™re gonna do some of the big fairs and some of the big festivals.
February 19, 2015 @ 6:27 pm
Who cares, he’s still hotðŸ‘ŒðŸ‘ðŸ˜