Recording Academy Announces Changes To Grammy Awards, Nominations Review Committees

The Recording Academy announced Wednesday (June 10) a series of changes that will affect the 63rd Grammy Awards.

The changes to Grammy categories affects the categories of Best New Artist, Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best Rap/Sung Performance, Best Engineered Album, as well as changes in the Musical Theater and the Latin Urban genres. The rules for the Recording Academy’s nomination review committees have also been updated.

“I’m excited to announce our latest changes, as we’re constantly evaluating our Awards process and evolving it to ensure the GRAMMY Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry,” said Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy. “The Academy accepts proposals for rule changes from members of the music community throughout the year that are carefully reviewed and, if accepted, ultimately ratified at our annual Board meeting, a process that we are proud to have continued in this challenging year.”

“As a peer-driven and peer-voted award, members of the music community are directly involved in the growth and preservation of the GRAMMYs® process,” said Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy. “Each year we receive a number of rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking us to reevaluate our process to better reflect the current state of the music industry and how it’s evolved over the past 12 months.”

In the Best New Artist Field, the upper limit rule will be removed and will rely on the expertise of the Core and Genre Screening Committees to make the determination as to whether or not an artist had attained prominence in a prior year. An artist will be considered for Best New Artist if their eligibility-year release(s) achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and notably impacted the musical landscape. Minimum releases to meet eligibility are five singles/tracks or one album. While there will be no specified maximum number of releases, the screening committees will be charged with determining whether the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year. Such a determination would result in disqualification. An artist may not enter into this category more than three times, including as a performing member of an established group.

The Best Urban Contemporary Album category will be renamed Best Progressive R&B Album. For albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded progressive vocal tracks derivative of R&B. This category is intended for artists whose music includes the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music. It may also incorporate production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk and alternative.

The Best Rap/Sung Performance will be renamed Best Melodic Rap Performance. This category is intended for performances that use the delivery of rap and melody over modern production. This performance requires a strong and clear presence of melody combined with rap cadence, and is inclusive of dialects, lyrics or performance elements from non-rap genres including R&B, rock, country, electronic or more. The production may include traditional elements of rap or elements characteristic of the aforementioned non-rap genres. Both the song and melody should be considered to fit these criteria to be accepted in this category.

The Latin Pop Album has been renamed Best Latin Pop or Urban Album, and Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album has been renamed Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album, to migrate the genres of Latin urban and represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres. The Best Latin Pop or Urban Album category is intended to recognize excellence in Latin pop or urban music recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content, and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of Latin pop music style and culture. The category includes recordings from balladeers and commercial Latin music and is not limited to any one region. The Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album category is intended to highlight Latin rock or alternative music recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of the Latin music style and culture.

The Best Engineered Album Categories will allow hi-res audio (greater than rebook audio-44 khz/16bit to be considered in submissions for both Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical and Best Engineered Album, Classical.

There are also several substantial changes to the Nominations Review Committee, including:

Term Limit Changes.

The term limit for nominations review committee chairs and members have been further limited, to three years on and one year off for committee members, and three years on/two years off for Chairpersons. Committee members may serve a maximum of five consecutive years, if they served on the committee first and were then elected to be chair. Two years off still applies in these cases.

Changes To Discourage Potential Conflicts Of Interest.

At the time of invitation to participate on a Nominations Review Committee, a conflict of interest disclosure form will be provided. Each person invited to be a member of such a committee must disclose to the best of their knowledge whether, in connection with any recording that may be entered in the current year’s GRAMMY Awards process, (a) the person would be in line to receive a GRAMMY nomination or win for any recordings being considered in a particular category, (b) the person would have any direct or indirect financial ties to the recordings or creators under consideration, (c) the person has immediate familial ties to any of the artists in the top voter selections, and/or (d) any other conflict of interest, actual or perceived.

If a recording listed by the invitee presents a conflict of interest, the Academy will notify the committee member that they cannot participate on the committee that year.

If, in the unlikely event that, despite these pro-active efforts a conflict is discovered during the committee meeting, that person will be notified and recused from the meeting.

Failure to voluntarily disclose any conflict of interest will result in the person being barred from future Nominations Review Committee participation.

For the full list of rule amendments for the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, which were voted on and passed at the Recording Academy’s most recent semiannual Board of Trustees meeting held in May 2020, click here.


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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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