Grammys Drop ‘Urban’ From Category Name, Clarify Best New Artist Rules

Changes also address conflicts of interest for nomination committee members

Last Updated: June 10, 2020 @ 8:33 AM

The term “urban” has been removed from a Grammy Award category to reflect the evolving state of the music industry, the Recording Academy said Wednesday. Changes to Best New Artist eligibility and nomination committees were also announced.

According to the Recording Academy, the following categories are being renamed, effectively immediately:

Best Urban Contemporary Album has been renamed Best Progressive R&B Album to “highlight albums that include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music.”

Best Rap/Sung Performance has been renamed Best Melodic Rap Performance to “represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre.”

Best Latin Pop Album has been renamed Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album to “recognize excellence in Latin pop or urban music recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content, and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of Latin pop music style and culture.”

Best Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album has been renamed Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album to “highlight Latin rock or alternative music recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of the Latin music style and culture.”

In addition, the new rules state there is no longer a specified maximum number of releases prohibiting artists from entering the Best New Artist category. Screening committees will be charged with determining whether the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year.

Moving forward, each person invited to sit on a Nominations Review Committee will fill out a disclosure form and note whether they’re in line to receive a nomination or win in the category, have financial or familial ties, and any other potential conflicts of interest. If there are, the Academy will notify the committee member that they cannot participate on the committee that year.

These changes address concerns ousted CEO Deborah Dugan made last year, who accused the Academy (via her lawyers) of having “a culture of misogyny, discrimination, sexual harassment, corruption and conflicts of interest.” At the time, Dugan said her efforts to expose this culture led to her dismissal.

“I’m excited to announce our latest changes, as we’re constantly evaluating our Awards process and evolving it to ensure the GRAMMY Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry,” Recording Academy Chair & Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said in a statement. “The Academy accepts proposals for rule changes from members of the music community throughout the year that are carefully reviewed and, if accepted, ultimately ratified at our annual Board meeting, a process that we are proud to have continued in this challenging year.”

“As a peer-driven and peer-voted award, members of the music community are directly involved in the growth and preservation of the GRAMMYs process,” added Chief Awards Officer Bill Freimuth. “Each year we receive a number of rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking us to reevaluate our process to better reflect the current state of the music industry and how it’s evolved over the past 12 months.”