Grammys remove secretive nominating committees

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When the Recording Academy introduced Friday that it was casting off the secretive — and extremely controversial — committees that form nominations for the annual Grammy Awards, many within the music business interpreted the transfer as a focused response to the widespread outcry over the Weeknd’s shutout from this 12 months’s ceremony.

Not so, based on the academy’s interim chief govt.

“It’s a protracted highway to get to a transformative change like this,” Harvey Mason Jr. informed The Instances in an interview, including that the academy convened a job power final summer time to look at the committees, properly earlier than nominations for March’s 63rd Grammys had been revealed. “It’s not one thing that occurs shortly or within the case of a response to at least one occasion.”

Certainly, the academy had drawn criticism for years over its nominating course of, which relied on small teams of nameless insiders to supervise, and generally amend, the Grammys poll from preliminary decisions by the academy’s 1000’s of voters. The nominations overview committees, as they had been formally identified, had been launched in 1989 ostensibly to make sure that nominations had been correctly categorized and that they precisely mirrored the state of music in a given 12 months.

However over time the committees’ work started to be seen as proof of a problematic system wherein insiders rewarded their associates and punished their enemies. Extra not too long ago, a variety of high-profile Black artists — amongst them Drake, Frank Ocean and Sean “Diddy” Combs — have recommended that Grammy nominations are tainted by institutional racism as a result of hip-hop and R&B artists, although acknowledged in style classes, are routinely neglected for extra prestigious awards like album, document and tune of the 12 months.

The complaints grew louder in 2020 after Deborah Dugan, the academy’s former chief, made explosive allegations of discrimination and vote-rigging in a lawsuit tied to her ouster from the group. Then the Weeknd, considered one of pop’s greatest stars, was snubbed regardless of the success of his album “After Hours” and his smash single “Blinding Lights.”

In a tweet after nominations had been introduced in November, the singer mentioned the Grammys had been “corrupt” and that the academy owed “me, my followers and the business transparency.” Later he mentioned he deliberate to boycott the present going ahead, particularly blaming the “secret committees” in a press release to the New York Instances.

Requested how he’d reply to criticism that the slow-moving academy acts solely when its hand is compelled, Mason replied, “I might say change occurs when our members resolve it’s time for change. Our members submit the proposals, after which folks vote on them. It’s what the membership needs, asks for and votes for.”

Response within the music enterprise was largely optimistic, with many saying the academy’s elimination of the committees was lengthy overdue. But others expressed skepticism that conflicts of curiosity contained in the group would all of the sudden disappear from the voting course of.

“I feel Harvey’s coronary heart is in the best place, and I feel it’s a step in the best route,” mentioned Lenny Beer, editor in chief of the commerce journal Hits, who wrote an impassioned put up in November concluding that the Weeknd had been “purposely excluded” from this 12 months’s nominations. “I hope these adjustments show to be actual and true. And I’ll imagine it once I see it.” A consultant for the Weeknd didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Of the skepticism, Mason mentioned, “Some folks most likely won’t ever be happy,” and insisted that the nominating course of will likely be easy any further: “Our 12,000 members will vote, and the highest eight vote-getters will likely be our nominees” within the 4 main classes of album, document and tune of the 12 months in addition to greatest new artist. Within the Grammys’ dozens of style classes, the highest 5 vote-getters would be the nominees, he mentioned.

“There’s no avenue or alternative to regulate the quantity,” he added.

Harvey Mason Jr.

Recording Academy interim Chief Government Harvey Mason Jr.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Instances)

The committees’ elimination was considered one of a number of rule adjustments the academy introduced Friday, together with a discount from 15 to 10 within the variety of style awards members are allowed to vote on and a rearrangement of the so-called craft classes — which honor manufacturing, packaging and the like — into two fields. (Assessment committees will proceed to form nominations in these classes.)

The academy additionally mentioned two new awards, for greatest international music efficiency and greatest música urbana album, could be handed out for the primary time on the sixty fourth Grammys, scheduled for Jan. 31, 2022. Recordings eligible for consideration should be launched between Sept. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021.

Mason mentioned he was happy by heat opinions of this 12 months’s ceremony, which featured huge wins by Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion and Billie Eilish and which marked govt producer Ben Winston’s debut because the present’s artistic head after 40 years with Ken Ehrlich on the helm.

“It wasn’t a straightforward present to supply, and it wasn’t an affordable present to supply,” Mason mentioned, referring to COVID-19 protocols that affected just about each side of the telecast. However he authorised of the “intimate high quality” of the present and mentioned he was desperate to see what Winston and his crew would do underneath extra regular circumstances.

Viewership for this 12 months’s CBS telecast set a document low, with 9.2 million viewers, a drop of greater than 50.6% from the earlier 12 months, a development consistent with almost all main awards present within the present cycle.

Subsequent 12 months’s Grammys ceremony is unlikely to occur on his watch. Mason, who stepped into his position on an interim foundation after Dugan’s departure, mentioned the seek for the group’s subsequent chief has yielded “a number of nice finalists” and that he expects the academy to fulfill its acknowledged objective of getting a brand new CEO in place by the tip of Could or starting of June.

“Surprisingly,” he mentioned, “I feel we’re on schedule.”

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