The Recording Academy gives and the Recording Academy takes away. After announcing that it had added categories in African music, jazz, and pop fields to next year’s Grammys earlier this week, the Academy revealed further changes today. Among them: making AI music eligible to win awards (under certain circumstances) and contracting the nomination fields among the so-called “Big Four” awards. Now, there will only be eight nominees for the Best New Artist and Album, Song, and Record of the Year instead of 10, according to Variety.
This returns them to their size in 2021 when they were expanded in an effort to “honor more artists and shine a light on more great music, and potentially offer a greater opportunity for more genres of music to be honored,” according to Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. Reducing the number of nominees to pre-2021 levels could also help by reducing the length of the show and consolidating voting for difficult choices and dark horses.
The move had proved to be controversial, with some questioning whether it was a bid to ensure that the permanently popular Taylor Swift would get nominated and thus be obligated to appear at the show, boosting its television ratings. The Academy denied those accusations. In any case, it’d have been a Pyrrhic victory at best; the other beneficiary of the expansion was Kanye West, who spent much of the past two years being a lightning rod for controversy.
In addition to the above-mentioned changes the Academy announced that the existing categories of Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical have been moved to the General Field. Meanwhile, to qualify for nomination in Album of the Year, credited contributors must appear for at least 20% of the album’s runtime; this was likely updated as album credits have exploded in size in recent years due to artists like Beyoncé crediting more collaborators and sampled artists while avoiding lawsuits.