On Friday, the Recording Academy announced sweeping changes to the Grammy nomination process including the elimination of secret voting committees. Other changes set to take effect in 2022 include the consolidation of production categories, the addition of two new categories, and a limit on the number of votes that voters can cast.
The most attention-grabbing change for the Grammys is the elimination of secret nominating committees. This past year saw an intense backlash against the clandestine process by The Weeknd who, despite the enormous critical and commercial success of his After Hours album and “Blinding Lights” single, garnered zero nominations. In response to the lack of recognition, The Weeknd boycotted this year’s ceremony and came out publicly against what he categorized as the Academy’s backroom dealings.
It now appears that the Recording Academy has made a concrete step forward in transparency, eliminating the secret committee that made final decisions on the nominees for the “Big Four” General field of Album, Song, and Record of the Year and Best New Artist. Nominating committees will remain in place for craft categories, including producer, packaging, and liner notes, but those who have been the object of far less scrutiny.
Going forward, the nominees for the General category will be chosen by the general Academy electorate, 90% of which, Variety reports, will go through a re-qualification process this year to “ensure that the voting body is actively engaged in music creation.”
“It’s been a year of unprecedented, transformational change for the Recording Academy, and I’m immensely proud to be able to continue our journey of growth with these latest updates to our Awards process,” Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy Harvey Mason Jr. said in a statement. “This is a new Academy, one that is driven to action and that has doubled down on the commitment to meeting the needs of the music community. While change and progress are key drivers of our actions, one thing will always remain — the Grammy Award is the only peer-driven and peer-voted recognition in music. We are honored to work alongside the music community year-round to further refine and protect the integrity of the Awards process.”
Additional changes coming to the music industry awards ceremony include reducing the number of categories in which Grammy Award Voters may vote from 15 to 10, which can be in no more than three categories. According to a statement from the Academy, this is to “ensure music creators are voting in the categories in which they are most knowledgeable and qualified.” All voters will still be able to cast ballots in the Big Four General categories.
The next Grammys will also see a reduction in craft categories with six existing craft fields consolidated into two: Presentation Field and Production Field. The Presentation Field will contain what were formerly the Package Field, Notes Field, and Historical Field, whereas the Production Field will consolidate the Production, Non-Classical Field; Production, Immersive Audio Field; and Production, Classical Field into one.
Finally, the Grammys will feature two new categories in 2021 which, given the reduction of craft categories, will bring the total number of categories to 86. The two new categories are Best Global Music Performance (Global Music Field) and Best Música Urbana Album (Latin Music Field).
“The latest changes to the Grammy Awards process are prime examples of the Recording Academy’s commitment to authentically represent all music creators and ensure our practices are in lock-step with the ever-changing musical environment,” Chief Industry Officer at the Recording Academy Ruby Marchand said. “As we continue to build a more active and vibrant membership community, we are confident in the expertise of our voting members to recognize excellence in music each year.”
Scroll down to read the full press release from the Recording Academy announcing the changes coming to the Grammy Awards.
APPROVED RULE AMENDMENTS INCLUDE:
Voting Process Changes
Elimination of Nominations Review Committees In General and Genre Fields
o Nominations in all of the Grammy Award general and genre fields will now be determined by a majority, peer-to-peer vote of voting members of the Recording Academy. Previously, many of the categories within these fields utilized 15-30 highly skilled music peers who represented and voted within their genre communities for the final selection of nominees. With this change, the results of Grammy nominations and winners are placed back in the hands of the entire voting membership body, giving further validation to the peer-recognized process. To further support this amendment, the Academy has confirmed that more than 90 percent of its members will have gone through the requalification process by the end of this year, ensuring that the voting body is actively engaged in music creation. Craft committees remain in place (see below for craft category realignment.)
Reduction In Number of Categories Voter May Vote
o To ensure music creators are voting in the categories in which they are most knowledgeable and qualified, the number of specific genre field categories in which Grammy Award Voters may vote has been reduced from 15 to 10. Additionally, those 10 categories must be within no more than three Fields. All voters are permitted to vote in the four General Field categories (Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist). Proposed by a special voting Task Force who brought forth the recommendation, this change serves as an additional safeguard against bloc voting and helps to uphold the Grammy Award as a celebration of excellence in music, with specific genre field categories being voted on by the most qualified peers.
Craft Category Realignment
o To better reflect the overlapping peer groups within the voter membership body, six existing craft fields will be consolidated into two fields: Presentation Field and Production Field. In either newly consolidated field, voters would have the ability to choose how many categories they feel qualified to vote in, respecting category vote limits, without being excessively limited by the three-field restriction. This benefits the integrity of these Awards by embracing and utilizing the specializations of the voters, without restricting their choice or contributions due to the field limits imposed by the recent reduction of the number of categories voters may vote in. Field updates are as follows:
Package Field, Notes Field and Historical Field renamed and consolidated to Presentation Field
Production, Non-Classical Field; Production, Immersive Audio Field; and Production, Classical Field renamed and consolidated to Production Field
New Categories Added
Two new categories have been added, bringing the total number of GRAMMY Award categories to 86:
Best Global Music Performance (Global Music Field)
Best Música Urbana Album (Latin Music Field)