In an effort to continuously evolve its Grammy Awards process, The Recording Academy announced today that it has restructured the Grammy categories across all genres and fields, bringing the total number of categories to be recognized at the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012, to 78 from 109. As a result, instead of separate "Best Metal" and "Best Hard Rock" performance prizes, there will now be a single "Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance" award.
The announcement was made this morning at The Academy's headquarters by President/CEO Neil Portnow, Academy Board Chair Emeritus and five-time Grammy winner Jimmy Jam, and Vice President of Awards Bill Freimuth. Additionally, a minimum of 40 distinct artist entries will be required in each category (up from 25).
"Every year, we diligently examine our Awards structure to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process," said Portnow. "After careful and extensive review and analysis of all categories and fields, it was objectively determined that our Grammy categories be restructured to the continued competition and prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music. Our Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its dedication to keeping The Recording Academy a pertinent and responsive organization in our dynamic music community."
For 53 years, The Recording Academy has recognized musical excellence with the Grammy Awards — the most prestigious and only peer-recognized award in music — and the awards have grown from 28 categories in 1959, to awards in 109 categories for the most recent 53rd Grammys. This growth springs from a tradition of honoring specific genres and/or subgenres within a field, and it has basically been approached one category at a time without a current overall guiding vision and without consistency across the various genre fields. In 2009, The Academy initiated a first-ever comprehensive evaluation of its awards process, which led to a desire for change. A transformation of the entire awards structure would ensure that all fields would be treated with parity. Diligent research, careful analysis, and thoughtful discussion of all fields resulted in an overarching framework and a restructuring of categories to 78, and ensures that every submission continues to have a home.
In addition to the restructuring of categories, two rule changes have been established and four fields have been renamed. It is now expected that each category shall have at least 40 distinct artist entries, up from 25. If a category receives between 25 and 39 entries, only three recordings would receive nominations that year. Should there be fewer than 25 entries in a category, that category would immediately go on hiatus for the current year — no award given — and entries would be screened into the next most logical category. If a category receives fewer than 25 entries for three consecutive years, the category would be discontinued, and submissions would be entered in the next most appropriate category.
The second rule change is regarding voting. Previously, voting members were allowed to vote in up to nine genre fields plus the general field on the first ballot and eight genre fields plus the general field on the second ballot, including every category within each chosen Field. Now, on each ballot, voters may vote in up to 20 categories in the genre fields plus the four categories of the general field — which includes "Record Of The Year", "Album Of The Year", "Song Of The Year", and "Best New Artist".