After years of debate regarding the underrepresentation of all music genres at the Grammys, the Recording Academy is making some major changes to its voting process and category regulations. The Grammys is reportedly upgrading to an online voting process and updating its rules for the Album of the Year category, which may mean big things for a more diverse group of tastemakers.
The voting process, which was reportedly approved last month by the Academy’s board of trustees, will take place in the fall and will consider songs and albums that were released between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017. In addition to upgrading its voting to meet the digital era, the Academy hopes its new process will increase voter turnout. and broaden its demographic. “We hope that our nominations will better represent the entire community of music makers, especially if there’s a particular segment that we’ve been missing,” Bill Freimuth, Recording Academy’s vice president, told BuzzFeed News. “There may be certain genres within our awards categories where the demographic that tends to participate in making that particular music might be more tech savvy in general, or might have more of a mobile lifestyle than certain other genres, and we think this might appeal to those folks… We’re doing everything we can to make the process as seamless and as fair and have as much integrity as possible.”
Another major change is the inclusion of more songwriters to the nominations list for the Album of the Year category, which was previously only reserved for artists, producers, and engineers. The new rule reportedly states all participants in an album must now be credited with at least one-third or more playing time on the project to be eligible for a nomination, Stereogum reports. Songwriters and producers who worked on an album’s biggest hit could also earn a nomination, Freimuth said. Previously, all participants would be nominated for the category if they contributed to the album in any way.
Both the category and voting updates could be major for rap, R&B, and contemporary albums that look to win big at the prestigious event. During this year’s Grammy Awards, the longstanding debate on the Academy’s denial of influential albums arose again, when Adele’s 25 album won the top prize over Beyonce’s Lemonade. Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, Rihanna’s ANTI, and Frank Ocean’s dual-project were also noticeably absent from the top category. A similar debate ignited in 2016 when Taylor’s Swift’s 1989 album beat out Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly.
Even with the new changes, Freimuth admits there are lingering, security concerns, but added that the Academy is doing “everything we can to make sure the integrity of the system will be preserved.” The Grammys nominations will be revealed on Nov. 28, and the 60th awards ceremony will kick off at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28, 2018.