The Grammys announced important changes to the awards process Wednesday. The amendments include recognizing songwriters who contributed to records nominated for Album of the Year, establishing online-only voting for members, and creating additional nomination review committees. Nominations for the 60th annual awards will be announced on November 28, per the release.
Perhaps the most dramatic change is the inclusion of songwriters and other music creators in the nominations for Album of the Year. If they worked on at least one-third of the album, they will be eligible to receive a Grammy. In the past, those titles have not been recognized at all.
The Grammys already have nominations review committees for 15 awards fields. Joining them this year will be committees for rap, contemporary instrumental, and new age categories. The committees are purported to ensure that emerging and independent artists, and creators with late-year releases, are considered fairly.
For the first time ever, the 13,000 voting members won’t be casting paper ballots. Instead, they will vote online, which the Recording Academy says provides better access for voters, prevents invalid ballots, and guards against fraud.
Grammys nominations and awards processes have often been the target of criticism from artists, industry professionals, and music reporters. In November 2016, Frank Ocean called not submitting his album Blonde for the Grammys his Colin Kaepernick moment, telling the New York Times, “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated,” and noting that only a handful of black artists had won Album of the Year in the past three decades. Kanye West also slammed the Academy in a series of February 2016 tweets, saying the Grammy awards and nominations process is out of touch, especially with black culture.
Nominations review committees have been criticized, too: Grammy voter Rob Kenner wrote in Complex in 2014 that the committees go in after voters have decided on nominations and tweak anything that seems “off.” It remains to be seen if these committees help or hurt deserving artists that have been neglected in the voting process.
The 2018 Grammy Awards will be broadcast Sunday, January 28 from New York’s Madison Square Garden.