Responding to complaints about Grammy nominations made in secret, the Recording Academy voted today to eliminate the committees in charge of that process to create more transparency.
The changes will be in effect starting with the 64th annual Grammy Awards, to be held on Jan. 31, 2022. Those awards cover music released during a 13-month window from Sept. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021.
Today’s decision means selection committees will be eliminated for the four top prizes and all genre categories. The committees for 11 craft categories in production, packaging, album notes and historical recordings will remain.
The nominees will now be chosen by the general Academy electorate. In conjunction with today’s decision, the board of trustees will also reduce to 10 from 15 the number of genre award categories the academy members may vote on, beyond the top four prizes, and added two awards: best global music performance and best música urbana album, a Latin category.
The secret expert committees that choose the nominations have come under increasing fire in the last few years, with the Weeknd vowing to boycott future Grammys after not being selected in the last group of nominees, even though he had a top-selling album, After Hours.
Nominating committees composed of music professionals serve on the nomination reviews committee for 61 of the 84 categories in the Grammys. They work to reduce the huge number of initial nominees to something more workable. Their identities are kept secret to avoid harassment by fans and undue influence.
The process began in 1989 as a way to address strange prior choices like the infamous placement of Jethro Tull in the heavy metal category. It later came under fire as restricting Black artists to genre categories and not placing the in the four major awards, album, record and song of the year, and best new artist.
In a statement, Harvey Mason Jr., the interim chief executive of the Recording Academy, said the decision toward transparency as part of“a year of unprecedented, transformational change” at the institution.
“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,” Mason said.
The issue with the weekend and statements made by former Recording Academy head Deborah Dugan brought the issue renewed attention. Dugan claimed many of the secret committee members had conflicts of interest.
Last year, the academy made musicians on the committees sign disclosure forms to prevent conflicts.
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