The Recording Academy voted to eliminate the groups responsible for determining nominees in a majority of the Grammy Awards’ categories. The board of trustees approved the change on Friday (April 30), hours after an anonymous source revealed the removal was a possibility.
“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., the academy’s interim president and CEO, 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,” he continued. “We are honored to work alongside the music community year-round to further refine and protect the integrity of the awards process.”
Nominations in a few categories are determined by votes, but nominees in most of the award show’s categories, including the top four awards — album, song and record of the year, along with best new artist — were previously selected by the committees. In those key awards, a group of about 20 music professionals narrowed the top 20 artists down to the top eight nominees.
When going over nominations in genre categories like rap, R&B, jazz and gospel/Christian, committees of 13 to 17 members were responsible for selecting five nominees from the artists voted into the top 15.
The nomination review committees were originally placed as checks and balances in the selection process, but the behind-the-scenes decision making was met with harsh criticism from those who have questioned whether the members’ selections are objective and others who have called the academy out for years-long Grammy snubs.
In 2020, while accepting the Icon Award at a pre-Grammys celebration, Diddy used his platform to call the Recording Academy out for their failure to reward classic albums by Black musicians. “Truth be told, hip hop has never been respected by the Grammys,” he said. “Black music has never been respected by the Grammys.”
He criticized the academy’s lack of transparency and diversity, and challenged them to show improvements in a year while encouraging A-listers to boycott the event if the representation in nominees wasn’t addressed. “If we don’t go, nobody goes,” he said. “If we don’t support, nobody supports.”
One year later, discussions about the Grammy Awards’ voting process reignited after The Weeknd — who consistently topped the charts with his record breaking hit “Blinding Lights” — was nominated for zero awards at the 2021 show. The lack of recognition from the academy prompted Drake’s suggestion of a new award show as well as a brief exchange between the “Heartless” star and Grammy representatives.
After the 2021 Grammy nominees were announced, The Weeknd called the Academy “corrupt” and criticized them for their lack of transparency. Months later, he revealed he would no longer attend the award show. “Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys,” he said at the time.
Mason maintained that music professionals in the committee were dedicated to finding excellence rather than snubbing artists. He added that measures were being taken to improve following the criticism.
“We’re all disappointed when anyone is upset,” he said. “But I will say that we are constantly evolving. And this year, as in past years, we are going to take a hard look at how to improve our awards process, including the nomination review committees.”
WIth the newly announced change, nominees will now be based purely on votes made by the academy’s voting members.