The Grammys have a hard-earned reputation for being out-of-touch with the modern music listener. But they’re working incredibly hard to fix that image. Last year, they loosened the rules around what constitutes an album to keep up with the new amorphous realities of music and now they’ve changed their voting system to encourage younger members of The Recording Academy to vote.
For the first time in history, the Academy is doing away with the paper ballot and allowing members to vote online. The hope is that the move will encourage younger, active musicians who are also members to vote, even if they are out on the road touring. In addition, the Grammys have formed a review committee for Rap nominees, with the intention of weeding out releases that ride into the nomination on name recognition alone.
“We form these committees only when we hear from … those genre communities (when) they feel like something’s wrong, or that our nominations could be better,” Senior Vice President of Awards Bill Freimuth told the Associated Press. “For rap, what they were finding was that ‘legacy’ artists, almost no matter what they released, they would get a nomination because of their name recognition and fan base.”
In addition to the new committee and voting rules, the Grammys also imposed new rules around the Album of the Year award. For the first time ever, songwriters will be included in the group of people who receive a Grammy for the winning album. However, the Academy also added new restrictions that producers, songwriters and engineers must have worked on at least 33 percent of an album to be eligible. This eliminates people who appear for a few songs from winning an award based around the album as a whole.
“Does participation on a single track on a 12 or 15-track album really signify that they really worked on the album? When it was put that way most people were saying, ‘No, not really,’” Freimuth said.
The first batch of nominees under the new rules will be announced on November 28.