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Recording Academy Drops ‘Urban’ From Grammy Categories and Makes More Changes

Recording Academy Drops ‘Urban’ From Grammy Categories and Makes More Changes

  • The Recording Academy has made several changes to its rules and guidelines effective immediately to allow more clarity.
Recording Academy Drops 'Urban' From Grammy Categories and Makes More Changes

The Recording Academy announced today that it has made major changes to several rules and guidelines that reflect its ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape and to ensure that the Grammy Awards nominating process and rules are more transparent and fair.

Changes to the Best New Artist category, Latin, R&B and Rap Fields, Nominations Review Committees, and more have been announced to go immediately in effect for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Best Urban Contemporary Album Category has been renamed Best Progressive R&B Album. Many artists called for record labels and the industry to stop using the word ‘urban’ to describe music by Black artists.

Best Rap/Sung Performance Category has been renamed Best Melodic Rap Performance. and redefined to ‘recognize solo and collaborative performances containing elements of rap and melody over modern production. This performance requires a strong and clear presence of melody combined with rap cadence, and is inclusive of dialects, lyrics or performance elements from non-rap genres including R&B, rock, country, electronic or more. The production may include traditional elements of rap or elements characteristic of the aforementioned non-rap genres.”

Latin Urban Recordings have been reclassified to compete against pop instead of rock. The new categories will be Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album and Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album.

The Best New Artist category also has new, clearer rules as it drew controversy in the past. The new rule states, “There is no longer a specified maximum number of releases prohibiting artists from entering the Best New Artist category. As such, the screening committees will be charged with determining whether the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year. Such a determination would result in disqualification.”

The Recording Academy also made a new rule that addresses potential conflicts of interests in Nominations Review Committees.

It states, “At the time of invitation to participate on a Nominations Review Committee, a conflict of interest disclosure form will be provided. Each person invited to be a member of such a committee must disclose to the best of their knowledge whether, in connection with any recording that may be entered in the current year’s GRAMMY Awards process, (a) the person would be in line to receive a GRAMMY nomination or win for any recordings being considered in a particular category, (b) the person would have any direct or indirect financial ties to the recordings or creators under consideration, (c) the person has immediate familial ties to any of the artists in the top voter selections, and/or (d) any other conflict of interest, actual or perceived. If a recording listed by the invitee presents a conflict of interest, the Academy will notify the committee member that they cannot participate on the committee that year. If, in the unlikely event that, despite these proactive efforts, a conflict is discovered during the committee meeting, that person will be notified and recused from the meeting. Failure to voluntarily disclose any conflict of interest will result in the person being barred from future Nominations Review Committee participation.”

“I’m excited to announce our latest changes, as we’re constantly evaluating our Awards process and evolving it to ensure the GRAMMY Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry,” said Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy. “The Academy accepts proposals for rule changes from members of the music community throughout the year that are carefully reviewed and, if accepted, ultimately ratified at our annual Board meeting, a process that we are proud to have continued in this challenging year.”

“As a peer-driven and peer-voted award, members of the music community are directly involved in the growth and preservation of the GRAMMYs® process,” said Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy. “Each year we receive a number of rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking us to reevaluate our process to better reflect the current state of the music industry and how it’s evolved over the past 12 months.”

For the first time, the Grammy Award rules and guidelines are available here.

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