Grammys eliminate 'secret committees' protested by The Weeknd
The Recording Academy announced major changes to the Grammy Awards on Friday, including the elimination of the controversial "secret" nomination review committees, which had ultimate say over the nominees in certain categories.
"Nominations in all of the GRAMMY Award general and genre fields will now be determined by a majority, peer-to-peer vote of voting members of the Recording Academy," the body said in a press release. "With this change, the results of GRAMMY nominations and winners are placed back in the hands of the entire voting membership body, giving further validation to the peer-recognized process."
The committees were made up of anonymous groups of "15-30 highly skilled music peers," in the Recording Academy's words, who "reviewed" the nominees chosen by the performers, songwriters, and other music industry professionals who vote on the Grammys. Ultimately, the committee members effectively chose who and what would be nominated, voting via confidential ballot to select each category's finalists.
The process became a public flashpoint earlier this year when The Weeknd announced he would boycott the Grammys due to the committees, in so many words. In March, the "Blinding Lights" singer told The New York Times, "Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys."
Ousted Recording Academy chief Deborah Dugan has also criticized the committees, alleging in her 2020 legal complaint that they were marred by corruption and insider dealing. "Rather than promoting a transparent nomination process, the Board [of Trustees] has decided to shroud the process in secrecy, and ultimately controls, in large part, who is nominated for Grammy Awards," the complaint read.
Dugan claimed that the Board used the committees "to push forward artists with whom they have relationships," manipulated the process to ensure certain songs and albums would be nominated, added artists the larger Recording Academy membership had not voted for as nominees, and allowed artists under consideration for nominations to sit on the committees for their categories.
Dugan's criticism intensified the already-increasing scrutiny of the Grammys, which have long faced accusations of bias against Black artists and women in particular. Frank Ocean also opted not to submit his music for Grammy consideration in protest, while artists including Drake, Kanye West, and Ariana Grande have criticized or publicly clashed with the awards show.
In a statement, Recording Academy chief Harvey Mason Jr. said the new changes were intended to "further refine and protect the integrity of the Awards process."
"It's been a year of unprecedented, transformational change for the Recording Academy, and I'm immensely proud to be able to continue our journey of growth with these latest updates to our Awards process," he added. "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."
Other changes announced Friday include the addition of two new categories, Best Global Music Performance and Best Música Urbana Album, and limiting the categories in which Recording Academy members may vote, "to ensure music creators are voting in the categories in which they are most knowledgeable and qualified."
The changes will be implemented immediately for the 2022 Grammy Awards, which are scheduled to take place Jan. 31, 2022.