The Recording Academy on Friday announced sweeping changes to its nomination process for the Grammys, eliminating the anonymous — or “secret” — expert committees that often decide the final ballot of nominees in major Grammys categories.
For years, a group of 15 to 30 anonymous music professionals from each genre or field gather together and whittle down the final list of nominees from a larger field voted on by the thousands of members. Now though, the process will be given back to the full membership, and the nominees will be based on a simple majority of votes.
While the nominating committees have been intended to help, they’ve been called into question, particularly by pop star The Weeknd, who said he would boycott the Grammys ceremonies moving forward after he was completely snubbed from all Grammy nominations in 2021.
In order to make sure the process stays fair, the Recording Academy is having 90% of its members go through a “requalification process” by the end of the year to make sure that the voters are actively engaged in music creation.
What’s more, the Academy has also tweaked the number of categories a member can vote in, reducing the genre categories someone can participate in from 15 to 10. And those 10 categories must be in no more than three fields. But all members are permitted to vote in the “Big 4” categories of Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist.
The committees remain however for the handful of craft categories, such as awards for packaging, album notes and more. But those too have now been consolidated into two fields, “Presentation Field” and “Production Field.”
Finally, the Grammys implemented two new categories for next year, bringing the total number of categories to 86: Best Global Music Performance in the Global Music Field and Best Música Urbana Album in the Latin Music Field.
“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,” Harvey Mason jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy, 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.”
This year, Beyoncé set the record for the most nominated and awarded woman ever at the Grammys. But of her 28 wins, only one of them came from a major category in the Big 4, for Song of the Year for “Single Ladies” way back in 2010. Time and again, Black artists dominate the R&B and Rap categories but get shut out in the Big 4 fields, leading to some outspoken criticism by major names in music.
The changes to the voting are a long time coming after Time’s Up Tina Tchen led a task force that proposed a set of changes to the nominations, including eliminating the secret committees and instituting a ranked voting system. And last year, the process came under scrutiny when Deborah Dugan, the ousted CEO of the Recording Academy, accused the process of being corrupt by appointing people who have conflicts of interest, either because they represent artists who are in contention or even because the artist themselves is on the committee.
The new changes for all the categories go into effect for the 64th Grammys, which are set for Jan. 31, 2022.