Joining the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (oh NARAS) is a dream of mine. I doubt it's difficult, but probably costs something… yeah, I should do some research. Orrrr, this article did it for me! Joy! You can be an associate (non-voting) member and attend amazing networking parties and events. To be a voting member though, you have to have 12 documentable released song credits, with at least one being in the last five years. Physical liners notes or the Allmusic database are what validates your claims - and that's it. Coming from someone who works in a data-based company, I have to reemphasize: make sure your metadata is entered correctly!
But let's look at things from the artist's perspective. Yes, promotions are more geared toward internet media now than ever. If your page doesn't have a Facebook link, you are way behind on the times. Between that and the simple subject of access, everyone can make music and put it out there. Good or bad. So, so bad.
Literally, to be nominated is an honor - and a huge PR boost! Who doesn't know that a Grammy means you're worth listening to? And to be nominated by your peers means something, which is exactly what that is.
Another interesting note was that nominated members could sort of, well, push for their votes. Send CD's, do media blasts… I figured that'd be illegal.
Committees are used for the first found in certain categories. And indies typically have better luck in less-crowded categories (not a big surprise there). You submit for the categories you want to me considered in; no one selects you from the bunch.
Overall, this article served it's purpose - I know WAY more about the process of voting and submitting than I did going in! And I love it. More knowledge is more power to make an effect on this insane industry that we love.