CMA established the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format with Country Music’s highest honor.
Candidates for the Hall of Fame will be appraised by CMA’s Hall of Fame Panels of Electors, which consist of anonymous voters appointed by the CMA Board of Directors, in accordance with the criteria below:
- Basic Standard – A candidate basically is to be judged on the degree of his or her contribution to the advancement of Country Music and on the indelibility of his/her impact.
- Individual Candidacy – Only individuals may be elected to the Hall of Fame. Companies, publications, radio stations and other groups – many of which significantly foster Country Music – are not eligible for Hall of Fame recognition.
- Scope of Activity – Flexible authority is vested in the Electors in identifying the scope of a candidate's activity in Country Music. The individual may have excelled in a narrow, specific sphere, such as songwriting, publishing, musician, recording artist, etc., or may have been active in several areas. In any event, a candidate must have achieved definitive leadership in his/her own field of Country Music activity. However, it is definitely not mandatory to honor the leaders in every activity related to Country Music. A candidate truly must compete with all candidates in all fields, as well as with all candidates in his/her own field.
- Span of Influence – The time factor of a candidate's impact on Country Music is completely flexible. It may cover an uninterrupted span of many years or it may cover two or more distinct and separated time cycles. Conceivably, a candidate may earn Hall of Fame recognition by one transient act, momentary in time, providing the impact on Country Music is deemed significant enough. Longevity of involvement with Country Music, therefore, will not in itself warrant recognition in the Hall of Fame.
- Influence on Others – A most significant criterion in evaluating a candidate will be his/her inspirational effect on others; the degree to which he/she multiplies his influence through others to create impact on Country Music far beyond his/her own direct individual contribution.
- Quantity vs. Quality – A candidate's ability to expand the popularity of Country Music is a quantitative virtue. The professionalism of his/her activity is a "qualitative" one. Both quantitative and qualitative criteria are to be considered equally and separately important; conceivably, one may be present without the other.
- Devotion to Others – Furthering Country Music by selfless devotion to the interests of others may enhance the candidacy of an individual, but it is not essential to winning. The activities of a candidate may be completely self‑devoted and still be considered significant enough to warrant recognition.
- Professional Conduct and Image – A candidate is expected to have practiced the highest caliber of professional conduct in order to enhance the public image of both himself/herself and Country Music.
- Personal Morals and Behavior – The selection process is not a judgment of personal morals and behavior, providing the latter does not negatively affect the professional conduct of the candidate and the public image of Country Music.