Letter sent to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame from the Sex Pistols
The most frequent criticism of the Hall of Fame is that the nomination process is controlled by a few individuals who are not themselves musicians, such as founder Jann Wenner (who has filled the position of managing editor for Rolling Stone magazine), former foundation director Suzan Evans, and writer Dave Marsh, reflecting their personal tastes rather than the views of the rock world as a whole. A former member of the nominations board once commented that "At one point Suzan Evans lamented the choices being made because there weren't enough big names that would sell tickets to the dinner. That was quickly remedied by dropping one of the doo-wop groups being considered in favor of a 'name' artist ... I saw how certain pioneering artists of the '50s and early '60s were shunned because there needed to be more name power on the list, resulting in '70s superstars getting in before the people who made it possible for them. Some of those pioneers still aren't in today."
There is also controversy in the lack of transparency in the selection process. Janet Morrissey of The New York Times wrote, "With fame and money at stake, it's no surprise that a lot of backstage lobbying goes on. Why any particular act is chosen in any particular year is a mystery to performers as well as outsiders – and committee members say they want to keep it that way." Jon Landau, the chairman of the nominating committee, says they prefer it that way. "We've done a good job of keeping the proceedings nontransparent. It all dies in the room."
According to Fox News, petitions with tens of thousands of signatures were also being ignored, and some groups that were signed with certain labels or companies or were affiliated with various committee members have even been put up for nomination with no discussion at all. The committee has also been accused of largely ignoring certain genres. According to author Brett Milano, "entire genres get passed over, particularly progressive rock, '60s Top 40, New Orleans funk and a whole lot of black music."
Another criticism is that too many artists are inducted. In fifteen years, 97 different artists have been inducted. A minimum of 50% of the vote is needed to be inducted; although, the final percentages are not announced and a certain number of inductees (five in 2011) is set before the ballots are shipped. The committee usually nominates a small number of artists (12 in 2010) from an increasing number of different genres. Several voters, including Joel Selvin, himself a former member of the nominating committee, did not submit their ballots in 2007 because they did not feel that any of the candidates were truly worthy.
Members of the British punk rock band Sex Pistols, inducted in 2006, refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum "a piss stain" and "urine in wine"