The Grammys cut number of awards from 109 to 78

Nabbing a Grammy Award just became a little more difficult to do. Today, in a sweeping overhaul, the Recording Academy cut the number of awards to be handed out at the 54th Grammy Awards from 109 to 78.

At the Academy”s Santa Monica headquarters, president/CEO Neil Portnow  announced the changes, saying that the board of trustees began the broad restructuring in 2009 under the direction of then board chair Jimmy Jam.  “After careful and extensive review and analysis of all categories and fields, it was objectively determined that our Grammy categories be restructured,” Portnow said. “The transformation of the entire awards structure [ensures] all fields are treated with parity.”

We”re reviewing the changes now and will come back with our analysis, as well as explain the difference between a field  (i.e.: the genre) and a category (the specific award given within that genre), but Portnow insisted that the number of fields recognized would not change. It looks like that means a number of fields will be will combined to fit the smaller number of categories. For example, the Gospel field has been renamed the Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music field and the Dance field has been renamed the Dance/Electronica field.

[More after the jump…]

In other changes, the number of distinct artist entries for each category jumps from 25 to 40. If between 25 and 39 entries are submitted for that category, only three nominees will be permitted instead of the standard five. If less than 25 entries are submitted, that category will be scrapped for that year and the entries will be submitted into other suitable categories.

If the submissions in a particular category number less than 25 three years running, that category will be eliminated for good.

Voting members will now be able to cast ballots in up to 20 categories in the genre fields, plus the four categories in the general field, which includes record, album, song and best new artist of the year. Previously, voters could cast ballots in up to nine genre fields plus the general fields in the first round and eight genre fields plus the general field in the second round of balloting.

The result to the viewer watching at home will be negligible since the Academy only gives out about a dozen Grammys during the broadcast, but the labels and artists are likely upset because the competition within each category will now be stiffer as fields that previously had their own category will now compete with similar subgenres.

More later, but if you’re so inclined, Portnow and other Grammy honchos will hold a live chat at 6 p.m. EDT/3 PDT at http://www.grammy.com today.