Grammys axe decades-old anonymous voting committee

The awards show has faced big backlashes from artists, fans and the music industry

The Grammy Awards have axed the anonymous voting committee that has been in place since 1989.

The committee traditionally trims down the nomination choices made by the members of the Recording Academy, deciding who appears on the final ballots. Those who serve in the group have their identities protected to avoid being influenced by outside figures or being attacked by fans, according to the academy.

That is the process for 61 of the 84 categories that make up the Grammys, but will no longer be operational starting with the 2022 awards, a post on the official Grammys site confirms.

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Harvey Mason Jr, the interim chief executive of the Recording Academy said in a statement that the move reflected “a year of unprecedented, transformational change” in the organisation.

“This is a new academy, one that is driven to action and that has doubled down on the commitment to meeting the needs of the music community,” he said.

The decision to remove the committee was debated for over a year and was reached by another committee – a group made up of academy members and “leaders”.

Grammys Recording Academy
Recording Academy logo on the red carpet during the Recording Academy Philadelphia Chapter Member Celebration at City Winery on December 10, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. CREDIT: Lisa Lake/Getty Images for the Recording Academy

The way the Grammys operates has become an increasing point of contention for artists, fans and music industry figures alike. The Weeknd has vowed not to submit his work for consideration at the annual awards ceremony again after his 2020 album ‘After Hours’ didn’t receive a single nomination for the 2021 show. He singled out the “secret committees” as his reason for skipping the ceremony in the future.

In recent years, the awards has also faced criticism for a lack of Black artists being recognised in the “Big Four” categories – Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist. Women have also been underrepresented in nominations past, with former Recording Academy president saying female musicians needed to “step up” at the 2018 event.

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Last year, Deborah Dugan – another former president of the academy – claimed there were “conflicts of interest” in the Grammys voting process that “taint the results”.

During an appearance on Good Morning America, the executive – who was fired for alleged misconduct and is suing the academy – said one low-ranking song became a contender for Song Of The Year because the artist who made it was represented by a member of the academy’s board.

Whilst Dugan wouldn’t identify the artist in question to protect “the integrity of all those artists who are going to perform” she also alleged the case was not in isolation. Last year, any musicians on the committees had to sign a disclosure form to prevent conflicts.

The GRAMMYs are coming
The GRAMMYs are coming

In response, the Recording Academy denied Dugan’s claims and said it was “curious” she had only decided to take action when she was facing allegations against her of creating a “toxic and intolerable work environment” and engaging in “abusive and bullying conduct”.

Dugan’s lawsuit stated that the administrative leave she was put on and claims made against her were in direct retaliation to her making serious allegations against the academy and its “historically male-dominated leadership” to the managing director of human resources.

Although the anonymous committee is being gotten rid of, review panels will remain for 11 of the “craft” categories, including the likes of production, packaging and album notes.

Academy members will also now only be able to vote on 10 genre award categories, reducing it from the traditional 15. That number does not include the main four awards, Best Global Music Performance or Best Música Urbana Album. The latter two are both new awards for 2022.

The Grammy Awards 2022 will take place on January 31, 2022 and will recognise music released between September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021.

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