Valory Music Suppressing Info on Justin Moore’s ACM Ineligibility
UPDATE: The ACM’s Respond to Justin Moore’s Ineligibility
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On February 5th, Saving Country Music posted an article detailing why Valory Music Group artist Justin Moore should be disqualified from the ACM Award’s “New Artist of the Year” category for which he is nominated along with seven others. Stipulated clearly in the Academy of Country Music’s rules, 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.
Saving Country Music was first tipped to this oversight of the rules by Windmills Country on Twitter, who on February 5th appeared on Connecticut Country 92.5’s “Electric Barnyard” radio show to discuss the rules oversight. What happened next was an acknowledgement by Justin Moore’s label Valory Music—an imprint of Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records—of the apparent rules violation, and apparently an effort to suppress that information. This leads to further questions of why the Academy of Country Music continues to not address this issue, and other potential improprieties clouding the ACM nomination process.
After Country 92.5 posted the audio of Windmills Country’s appearance on the station’s website, they were contacted by The Valory Music Group and asked to take the audio down as can be seen in this Twitter thread.
So the next question is, “Why?”
Accusations of block voting, vote swapping, and other behind-the-scenes gaming of the Academy of Country Music nomination and voting process have been around for years. In 2011, country radio personality Jimmy Carter spoke specifically on how labels decide which artists they want to push through the ACM’s, saying:
It’s crazy political. . . You have to just say, “OK, these awards are what they are. They’re bragging rights, they’re an infomercial for the record label.” And like I was told off the record yesterday”¦that Miranda Lambert got all those nominations because the record label had to decide. Are they going with Carrie Underwood this year, or Miranda Lambert? Both are on the same label. They figured it would help Miranda more than it would help the career of Carrie Underwood.
Once again Miranda Lambert leads the 2014 ACM nominations with seven, despite not having released an album in over 2 years. But the Justin Moore eligibility issue specifically might be the first time a label and/or the Academy of Country Music have been caught red-handed showing favoritism to a particular artist; the first concrete evidence of impropriety in the nomination and voting process of one of the industry’s biggest awards.
Valory Music and the ACM’s may hope that this issue just blows over, but the removal of the Windmills Country audio has arguably exacerbated it, and fed the suspicion some country fans have surrounding the awards process. If there is an explanation for the discrepancy between Justin Moore’s eligibility and his nomination, the fans of country music have yet to hear it. And if there is no explanation, the Academy of Country Music and its label partners are allowing the legitimacy of these awards to be called into question.
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.
Out of the respective entities in this issue, Justin Moore might be the least culpable. As he said in November of last year, his exclusion from award shows up until this nomination, including not being asked as a performer or even a presenter, has been quite curious when compared to his overall commercial impact in the genre. At the same time, his exclusion speaks to the collusive nature of country music’s top awards, and the narrow cast of names country’s awards continually draw from.
As unfair as it might be that Justin Moore has been excluded from the awards show process, as Windmills Country points out in their own article on the subject, it is even more unfair to the truly “new” artists that got excluded from this year’s nominee list because of the inclusion of established artists like Justin Moore and Lee Brice. The issue is especially exacerbated because of all the concern with country music’s inability to develop new female talent. Only one female artist, Kacey Musgraves, is included in the category, as the lack of female representation in country music has been making major periodical headlines left and right.
If the Academy of Country Music wants to keep a level of integrity around their awards and the process of determining nominees and winners, this Justin Moore eligibility issue must be addressed in a public manner. If there is an explanation, if a rule change needs to be made, then make it. Until then, it is fair, if not imperative on the country music community to question the legitimacy of the ACM’s nomination and voting process, and thus, the awards themselves.
February 10, 2014 @ 10:36 am
I’ll point out again that Kacey Musgraves had nominations last for her first major album that hadn’t even been released before the nominations were made. How do you get a “Best Female Vocalist” nomination when you don’t have a major album release yet? Those nominations for Kacey last year just scream that they were bought and paid for nominations for publicity.
I’m still laughing about that part where Miranda Lambert needs it more that Carrie Underwood (funny and it makes sense). Also interesting is that Miranda, Carrier and Kacey all appeared on singing competition shows (Kacey got to #7 on Nashville Star). The only other two solo females that have charted well lately are also from singing competition shows (Danielle Bradbury and Cassedee Pope). It’s as if Nashville won’t build up a talented female anymore but they’re willing to take one in that’s had TV time already.
There needs to be a Wiki Leaks or Edward Snowden level event to really blow the lid of things and force them into some kind of honest approach. The “Infomercial” remark seems pretty dead on.
February 10, 2014 @ 2:56 pm
Very likely what The ACM’s and Valory Music are betting on is apathy surrounding this issue. Your general pop country fan is not going to care enough to look into the particulars of the nomination process, and independent fans don’t put enough credence into the ACM’s to care in the first place. However if you think the ACM’s, and the general way these country awards shows anoint who our generation’s most important country music stars are, this might be the moment you’ve been waiting for to pull back the curtain.
The longer the ACM’s go without addressing this issue, the more it could sting once they are forced to.
February 10, 2014 @ 10:51 am
I don’t think Justin has a snowball’s chance of winning.
February 10, 2014 @ 11:33 am
You can also complain to the ACM about their integrity here”¦
Just another way to be disillusioned by the Nashville Pop machine…I think I’ll keep writing/performing hard dirt americana
February 10, 2014 @ 1:09 pm
I hope the biggest thing to come out of this discussion is a better understanding of totally rigged and bogus these awards nominations are. To many close followers of the music industry this has been known for ages but to the more casual fan it has probably flown under the radar but with each more suspicious incident it becomes clearer what is happening.
For many of these labels they have their awards acts and then they have that second tier that gets airplay but is never considered award worthy (think Billy Currington or Dierks Bentley types) and it really is almost impossible to break into that club no matter what you do unless your label decides to push you into that higher priority awards tier.
It really is a fixed system.
February 10, 2014 @ 3:11 pm
I happen to think Dierks Bentley is more awards worthy than Luke Bryan or Jason Aldean any day. I’m sick and tired of the same 5-7 male artists being nominated every year. Same with the women. Sheryl Crow? Really?? How about Brandy Clark, Kellie Pickler or Ashley Monroe?
February 10, 2014 @ 1:12 pm
Completely unrelated I just wanted to get a response. Any updates on whether David Allan Coe is worth going out to see. Hes coming to a bar in my town and was just wondering if hes still not delivering during live performances
February 10, 2014 @ 1:40 pm
That is a tough question to answer because it is based on one’s personal perspective. I saw him at Willie Nelson’s picnic half a year ago. I was glad I saw him and would miss other sets of music to see him again. But the music was positively awful. I have not heard much recently about where the music is at this moment.
February 10, 2014 @ 2:48 pm
Yeah thats what im thinking, its only 20 bucks and thats a small price to see a country legend
February 10, 2014 @ 8:11 pm
The very reason the Outlaw Music Association will never do awards.
February 11, 2014 @ 8:39 am
I have a dislike of awards shows in general since they offer little to those outside of the particular industry. I like movies & TV, but why do I care to see an actor or screenwriter accept an award? It’s the product that I care about, not some lame speech.
At least music awards shows have performances. So normally what I do is DVR the show and then skip from performance to performance and bypass all the awards and thank-yous that I don’t care about. As awards shows go, the CMA Awards are far superior to the others, offering a better range of talent and actually paying at least some attention to the history of country music.
The ACMs are a lesser product in all ways, especially since Reba McEntire departed as hostess. While I can’t say that the Justin Moore nomination changes my opinion of the ACMs since my opinion wasn’t very high to begin with, it does make me consider whether to support the show at all. Perhaps a plunge in the ratings will send a message to the powers-that-be.
February 11, 2014 @ 3:30 pm
ACM’s response to the Justin Moore issue:
February 11, 2014 @ 5:51 pm
The CMA’s And ACM’s are a fraud. It is not about merit or talent but favors and favortism. Who is my drinking buddy? Who wants their demos heard? Big lavish parties for votes. It’s corrupt. I worked on Music Row during the 80’s and 90’s and it had more integrity and honesty than it has now. I refuse to watch any of the awards programs due to corrupt behavior from labels like Big Machine Records. It needs to looked into similar to the payola scams in the 70’s. I am out as a country fan right now. Not worth my time or money.