Grammys Nixing Nominating Committees After Criticism From Weeknd And Others
The Recording Academy’s board of trustees has voted to eliminate anonymous expert committees from the Grammys Awards’ nominating process, The New York Times reports. Since 1989, committees of music professionals selected by the Academy have reviewed the initial nomination choices by the Grammys’ voting membership to determine the final ballot for 61 of the 84 categories. According to Harvey Mason Jr., the Grammys’ interim chief executive, the committees were introduced “to eliminate the potential for a general-awareness bias that might favor artists who enjoy greater name recognition over emerging artists, independent music and late-year releases.”
These anonymous committees and their mysterious behind-the-scenes machinations have faced intense criticism in recent years. The Weeknd, who was snubbed completely in the nominations despite the success of his album After Hours and its single “Blinding Lights,” publicly accused the Academy of corruption and said that he would boycott the Grammys going forward. “Because of the secret committees,” he said in a statement prior to the ceremony in March, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”
Deborah Dugan, the former CEO of the Recording Academy who filed a legal complaint after being ousted just 10 days before last year’s ceremony, also criticized the committees, saying that they were rife with conflicts of interest. According to Dugan, an artist who was up for the Song Of The Year category was allowed to sit on the committee for that category and was also represented by a board member.
While the expert committees are being cut from the top four prizes and all genre categories, review panels will remain for 11 “craft categories” covering awards for production, packaging, album notes, and historical recordings. In the same meeting, the board also voted to reduce the number of genre award categories that Academy members can vote on, beyond the top four prizes, from 15 to 10. Two new awards, Best Global Music Performance and Best Música Urbana album, are also being added. These changes will take effect with next year’s ceremony.
Harvey Mason Jr., the Grammys’ interim CEO, said that the decision to eliminate the committees, which was first proposed over a year ago, is part of “a year of unprecedented, transformational change” within the organization. “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,” he added.