Grammys Change Voting Rules for Top Album and Rap Categories

    The changes aim to prevent possible fraud, increase voting participation, boost songwriters’ profiles, and focus on the music over popularity.

    Long overdue changes are coming to the Grammy Awards. According to Bill Freimuth, the Recording Academy SVP, the focus of the changes will be to prevent possible fraud, increase voting participation, boost songwriters’ profiles, and perhaps most importantly, assure that awards such as Best Rap Album focus on the music over popularity. (Here’s looking at you, Views.)

    The changes will come into effect immediately, which will now allow the 13000 members of the Academy to vote online. According to Freimuth, this will limit the amount of incorrectly filled out ballots as well as allow voters on tour to weigh in. This system has already been in place for the Latin Grammys and proved to be successful thus far.

    “When I met younger voters and talked about the ballots going out in the U.S. mail, I got eye-rolls and sighs,” the SVP said. “It was frustrating for us to lose a segment of voters because they were on the road.”

    A new rule that everyone can agree on is that songwriters credited with at least a third of the runtime on Album of the Year nominees will rightfully win their own Grammys. Another change comes as the Academy altered the scope of albums to includes records that are a single track opposed to the old rule that forced a five track minimum.

    Perhaps the most notable addition is the implementation of what Freimuth calls “nomination review committees” which will be set up to vet the nominations for rap, contemporary, instrumental, and new-age music which apparently were requested by the communities for the genres themselves.

    Such committees already exist for categories like Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist with the aim to be, as Freimuth said to “override the popular vote to focus on what is really the best.”

    The new rap committee is said to have already been meeting regularly over their concern that “most of the people being nominated were the big names.” Freimuth remained pragmatic. “While they certainly are not saying that those people at times shouldn’t be deserving, maybe not absolutely everything they do is Grammy worthy.”

    To read all of the changes as stated by the Academy themselves, check out their descriptions below.

    Grammy Awards Voting Will Now Be Online

    For the first time, voting members will cast their Grammy Awards votes online rather than by paper ballot. This transition will provide greater flexibility for touring artists, eliminate the possibility of invalid ballots, and protect further against fraudulent voting. All voting members in good standing will be eligible to vote online in both rounds for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

    Songwriters Now Recognized In Album Of The Year

    Moving forward, all music creators (songwriters, producers, engineers, mixers, mastering engineers, featured artists) credited with at least 33 percent or more playing time on the winning album will be eligible to receive a Grammy in the Album Of The Year category. Previously, songwriters were not recognized in this category.

    Nominations Review Committees Established For Rap, Contemporary Instrumental, And New Age Fields

    Beginning this year, Nominations Review Committees will be created and implemented for the Rap, Contemporary Instrumental, and New Age Fields. A Nominations Review process was established in 1989 as an additional round of checks and balances to eliminate the potential for a popularity bias that puts emerging artists, independent music, and late-year releases at a disadvantage. Since then, Nominations Review Committees have been established across 15 awards fields.  

    Album Definition Expanded To Allow For More Inclusion In Classical, Dance, And Jazz Fields

    To be eligible for Grammy consideration, an album must comprise a minimum total playing time of 15 minutes with at least five distinct tracks or a minimum total playing time of 30 minutes with no minimum track requirement. Prior to this amended album definition, the only delineation was 15 minutes and five tracks. The definition expansion allows for greater inclusion of music creators who produce longer pieces, particularly in the Classical, Dance, and Jazz Fields.

    Amendments To The Music For Visual Media Field

    As a general rule, only one version of a track is permitted for entry in the GRAMMY Awards process. Moving forward, an exception will be made in the Best Song Written For Visual Media category, allowing the film version of a track to be entered in the category, even if a different version of the track is submitted in other categories. In the Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media category, eligibility guidelines have been amended to require soundtrack albums for a documentary or biopic to contain 51 percent or more of newly recorded music.