Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Rules Q & A
A: We don’t know yet. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used to announce the number of inductees with the nominations press release. Last year they didn’t announce a number and there ended up being six performer inductees.
Q: Doesn’t the Rock Hall have any rules for induction?
A: Yes and no. For years now, this is what the Rock Hall claims is the criteria for induction (emphasis ours):
Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.
The Foundation’s nominating committee selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of more than 600 artists, historians and members of the music industry. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes - and more than 50 percent of the vote - are inducted. The Foundation generally inducts five to seven performers each year.
Seems clear enough, right? The only problem is that the 50% criteria cannot be possibly be enforced when you predetermine the number of inductees.
Q: Why is that?
A: For example, there were 12 nominees for the 2010 inductions and they decided ahead of time there would be five inductees. Mathematically, it’s possible for none of the nominees to receive greater than 50% of the vote. So how can you have a rule requiring a certain percentage of the vote when you’re going to induct exactly five anyway? The 50% rule was meaningless then, and is likely meaningless now.
Q: Why is the rule meaningless now? They haven’t predetermined the number of inductees this year.
A: Take a look at our mock poll, which mimics the Rock Hall’s ballot process. Currently only three artists are polling above 50%. In a year as diverse as this, where there are only a couple of overwhelming favorites to be inducted, it’s very likely there will only be a few artists who appear on the majority of ballots, if any.
Q: So, if no artist gets over 50% of the vote, will the Rock Hall just cancel the induction ceremony?
A: Of course they won’t. HBO has a show to put on. That’s why the 50% rule is completely meaningless and should be removed from their website.
Q: If the only rule the Rock Hall has for induction is meaningless, then what rules do they follow?
A: Um… At this point, the best answer is that there are no rules.
Q: Why did they stop predetermining the number of inductees? That seemed like a reasonable rule if you ignored the 50% requirement.
A: Now that there are no rules to pretend to adhere to, the Rock Hall and HBO can induct as many or as few artists as they want to so they have an acceptable broadcast. For example, if the top five vote-getters turn out to be Procol Harum, Albert King, Donna Summer, The Marvelettes and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, would HBO be happy about an event where so many of the inductees were dead or unknown to a huge part of their audience? And let’s say Rush or N.W.A came in sixth. Isn’t it an easy decision to just go ahead and induct six or seven artists for the benefit of the TV show? Having no rules gives the Rock Hall a lot of flexibility.
Q: Who gets to vote anyway?
A: All 423 living Hall of Famers get a ballot. It’s unknown who the rest of the Voting Committee is, with the exception of a few nice people who go public with their ballots.
Q: But the fans get to vote this year!
A: Indeed they do, but it’s mostly a symbolic gesture from the Rock Hall. The top five vote-getters from the official online poll will be recorded on just one of the 600+ ballots and added to the total.
Q: Are the ballots cast anonymously? Who counts the votes?
A: The ballots are not anonymous. Joel Peresman, the Rock Hall President & CEO, admitted in an interview that they look to see who certain artists voted for, which could influence future nominations. As for who counts the votes, we’re assuming it’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation itself. Most award shows use an independent accounting firm to tally the votes to avoid accusations of impropriety.
Q: How many of the 600+ ballots actually get filled out and returned?
A: We don’t know, but would love to find out. We would also like to know the average number of artists voted for on each ballot. You can vote for a maximum of five, but some people vote for fewer than that. Unlike the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Rock Hall has never released any voting statistics.
Q: Didn’t voters used to have to rank their votes in order of preference?
A: Indeed they did, but it was never known why. The Rock Hall dropped that requirement a few years ago.
Q: When will the inductees be announced?
A: Last year, ballots were due December 5th and the inductees were announced on December 7th. As you can see above, this year’s ballots are due December 3rd, so the inductees should be announced shortly thereafter.
Let us know if there are any questions that we missed, and we’ll try to answer them.