Grammy Awards announce new rules, including online voting and review committees

Last night, The Recording Academy revealed that nominations for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards would be announced on November 28th. In addition, the organization established a series of new amendments to the voting process, including the introduction of online voting, the recognition of songwriters in the Album of the Year category, and new review committees for the rap, contemporary instrumental, and New Age fields.

In an interview with Variety, Recording Academy SVP Bill Freimuth broke down the rule changes in more detail. First, he addressed online voting, explaining that not only will it provide greater flexibility for touring artists and thus increase participation for all voters, it should prevent incorrectly filled out ballots, and allow for more informed voting.

“Paper ballots would often be filled out incorrectly — people would vote in categories they weren’t [authorized to vote in] and things like that — and this way the software will not let them submit incorrectly,” he stated. “Finally, on the same site, voters will be able to listen to or watch all of the nominated recordings or videos, or look at the nominees for package design.”

The change allowing songwriters to be recognized in the Album of the Year category — provided they are credited with at least 33 percent or more playing time on the winning album — was in response to a proposal from “very highly regarded” songwriters. “We formed a subcommittee, which met throughout the year and heard from more people, and it became obvious that it was something we should do,” Freimuth explained.

Perhaps the most crucial amendment is the creation of new review committees, particularly in the rap field. The committees are dedicated groups designed to eliminate popularity bias that disadvantages emerging artists, independent music, and late-year releases. “For Rap, and the other categories to a degree, a lot of their argument was kind of similar — it was going more to big-name folks and felt like more of a popularity contest,” stated Freimuth. “That’s not to say that someone who’s very famous can’t put out a fantastic track or album, but maybe some younger up-and-coming folks deserve that spotlight.”

Last year, The Academy amended its eligibility rules to include streaming-only releases, giving Chance the Rapper the opportunity to win the Best Rap Album award for Coloring Book. The Grammy Awards return to Madison Square Garden on January 28th, 2018, with James Corden serving as master of ceremonies.

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