October 20, 2021

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Grammys Might End Nomination Review Committees

The awards and nominations committee has supported a proposal to do away with such committees and let rank-and-file Grammy voters have the final say. The final determination will be made by the trustees. Recommendations made by the A&N committee, as it is commonly called, are generally supported by the trustees, though the trustees are likely to thoroughly discuss the merits of such a momentous change.

The move to nominations review committees began in 1989 with the classical categories, followed by jazz shortly after. The committee approach was adopted in the “Big Four” categories — album, record and song of the year, plus best new artist — in 1995, after controversy erupted over some of the 1994 Grammy nominations. Some argued that album of the year nods for Tony Bennett and The Three Tenors — and none that year for alternative or hip-hop artists — showed that the Grammys were out of touch.

Many more genre fields shifted to committee review in the next two decades. The most recent fields to fall under the committee umbrella are rock, dance/electronic music, rap, new age and global music (formerly known as world music).

But some feel that the academy’s aggressive efforts to expand and diversify its membership in recent years makes the need for nominations review committees less pressing that it was a quarter-century ago. In effect, the trustees will decide whether these committees have outlived their usefulness.

The trustees are also discussing other, more routine A&N proposals, including adding “four or four” new categories, including one in gospel music and one (an urbano category) in Latin. They are discussing some changes in the names and definitions of certain categories. They are also discussing changing the eligibility year, to possibly make it a 13-month period this year because of changes in release dates tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trustees will convene again in May to discuss other matters. They are effectively breaking their regular trustees meeting into two parts because they have so much to discuss and decide.

Billboard anticipates running a full report on the Trustees decisions later today.

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