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FIXING BROKEN GRAMMYS:
ACADEMY DUMPS SECRET COMMITTEES

The Recording Academy has made significant changes to its awards process aimed at rendering Grammy Awards rules and guidelines more “transparent and equitable.” The biggest and most fundamental change is the elimination of all Nominations Review Committees—aka “the secret committees”—a hot-button issue in recent years that was brought to a head by the indefensible snubbing of The Weeknd when nominations for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards were announced on 11/24/20.  

Additionally, the number of categories in which voters may vote has been reduced, and two categories have been added. These and the other updates listed below, the release explains, “are a result of extensive discussions and collaboration over the course of the last year among a special subcommittee of Academy members and elected leaders and were voted on by the Board of Trustees.”

These changes go into effect immediately for the 64th annual Grammy Awards, scheduled to take place 1/31/22; the eligibility period runs from 9/1/20 through 9/30/21.

Further rule-amendment proposals will be discussed and voted on at an upcoming academy meeting, with the full rulebook released in May.

“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,” reads the quote of Interim Academy Chair/Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. “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.”

Here’s the meat of the release, verbatim:

APPROVED RULE AMENDMENTS INCLUDE:

Voting Process Changes

Elimination of Nominations Review Committees in General and Genre Fields

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

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

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)

“The latest changes to the Grammy Awards process are prime examples of the Recording Academy’s commitment to authentically representing all music creators and ensuring that our practices are in lockstep with the ever-changing musical environment,” Chief Industry Officer Ruby Marchand explained for the record. “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.”

Chief Awards Officer Bill Freimuth also weighed in. “As an academy, we have reaffirmed our commitment to meeting the needs of music creators everywhere, and this year’s changes are a timely and positive step forward in the evolution of our voting process,” he offered. “We rely on the music community to help us evolve, and we’re grateful for their collaboration and leadership.”

The above rule amendments were voted on and passed at a Recording Academy Board of Trustees meeting held on 4/30.

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