The New Mexico Music Awards program uses both local (New Mexico) and outside judges to determine the finalists and winners in the New Mexico Music Awards.

The entry process begins January 1st of each calendar year and ends on February 8th of each calendar year. After the entry deadline, entries are processed and categorized. Processing the entries can take up to a month.

If 5 or fewer entries are received for a particular category, those entries proceed directly to finals judging.

If there are less than 3 entries in a category, those entries may be added to a similar category, like Bluegrass added to the Folk category.

In some cases, if fewer than 5 entries are received in similar categories, like Reggae and World, those categories may be combined.

Once the categories are finalized, judges from New Mexico including artists, songwriters, radio station program and music directors, music reviewers, producers, recording engineers and other music industry professionals are engaged to judge the entries and whittle down categories to five finalists in each category. Judges are given instructions and criteria specific to the category being judged. In some cases where scoring cannot be determined in order to reach five finalists per category, as many as seven finalists will be accepted. Judges are vetted may not have any professional, financial, familial or any other conflicting interest with any entrant in a category. The decision of the judges is final.

Once finalists are determined, those finalists entries are sent outside of New Mexico to music industry professionals for judging. Judges are given instructions and criteria specific to the category being judged. These include artists, songwriters, producers, recording and mastering engineers, talent managers, directors, graphic artists and others. Finals judges are given one month to consider these entries and return their ballots. Judges are vetted may not have any professional, financial, familial or any other conflicting interest with any entrant in a category. The decision of the judges is final.

Awards are presented at a banquet and show held annually in May in Albuquerque.