The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nomination and Induction Process

[March 31, 2009] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has traditionally been vague about how artists get nominated. The Rock Hall's president recently explained how it works to MSNBC.

According to Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., the initial selections are made by a committee of 30 to 35 music business people — who Peresman won’t name (although Fox News purportedly revealed a few names in 2007).

Peresman does say, though, that the committee is made up of people from all different parts of the business: "There's musicians, there's writers, there's critics, there's people from the live end, (there's) managers. (There's) a wide selection of people who have all been selected because we feel that they have a good, solid connection to a wide variety of music. Everybody knows a lot about different things, which is what the idea is."

It's unclear why the Rock Hall is unwilling to name the members of the Nominating Committee. They don't exactly go to great lengths to hide them, otherwise they wouldn't print their names in the induction ceremony program every year. If you're interested in seeing the mystery group, we list them here.

When that committee gets together every September, all the members submit the names of three potential inductees. They then have to defend their choices, Peresman explains.

"It's not really that this one sold this many albums or this many tickets," explains Peresman. "It's really 'What's the significance of that artist? And why should they be inducted?'"

After a lot of discussion, committee members take a vote and pick the top 20 favored artists. That list is then trimmed to nine — the names that get announced each year as nominees. From there the list gets sent out to a much larger group, which Peresman says is made up of "around 500 to 600 people," including "past inductees and other people within the music business." Their top five choices are the artists who are ultimately inducted.

Peresman doesn't say how many of the voters actually take the time to mail in their ballots each year.

Peresman also doesn't explain why the nominating committee started naming just nine artists to the ballot each year, instead of the 15 or 16 they did before he became president three years ago. Under Peresman, the Hall of Fame also began predetermining the number of inductees in the performer category each year, rather than inducting the top vote getters who had received over 50% of the vote, which was the previous system, and not just limiting it to five each year.

Rock fans have tried for years to have their voices heard in the selections, but you'll notice nowhere in the process above is there room for the public's involvement. Fan petitions sent to the committee generally aren't considered. And as far as fans voting with their wallets, Peresman reiterates that record and ticket sales aren't a factor.

The absence of prog rock (Rush, Yes, ELO, King Crimson, etc.) from the Hall of Fame was also addressed by Peresman.

"That's something that's actually been addressed, especially at this past meeting [in September, 2008]," Peresman admits. "We look at things and see where there are some areas that we feel were kind of blighted — things that should be addressed. Last year was the first year that they did something different. They actually created some subcommittees within the major committee to say 'Come up with a recommendation of a progressive act. Come up with a recommendation of some of the older R&B groups.'

"Besides Pink Floyd, we really don't have much (progressive rock) in the Hall of Fame," Peresman continues. "We realize that. And we're taking a look to try and address some of those holes that we have in our place. So we just have to take a look at are we doing something right, wrong or indifferent."

Future Rock Legends is not affiliated with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.