Grammys Move From 8 to 10 Nominees in Major Categories

·5-min read

In a surprise announcement on Tuesday — Grammy nominations day — the Recording Academy revealed it is expanding the number of nominees in the big four general field categories from eight to 10 nominees, effective immediately.

Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist will now all feature 10 nominees, up from eight in past years, and that will be reflected in this year’s crop of nominees being announced Tuesday.

While highly unorthodox to announce such a major rule change moments before the nominees themselves are announced rather than make the move next year, the change comes in the wake of the Recording Academy re-qualifying a majority of its members and eliminating the controversial secret nominating committees.

And in a letter to members Tuesday from Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. and Board of Trustees chair Tammy Hurt justifying the sudden move, they explained that those changes already made a big impact on the membership, the eligible entries and voter turnout, and there was no reason to wait until next year to reflect those changes in the nominees.

“Earlier this year, when we eliminated the nominating committees, we said it was because our members were ready. You validated that change. New members joined the organization in droves.  Voters surged to the polls. You brought your very best to evaluating the work of your peers, even with more submissions than ever before to assess, Mason Jr. and Hurt wrote.

They continued: “The growth in music and your extraordinary engagement obligated us to seek this change. Perhaps in the past, the leadership would have waited for the next Awards cycle to make a change. But one thing that we’ve heard loud and clear from you is that you are tired of waiting for big changes. You asked for — and you deserve — an organization that is as nimble and brave as you. In that spirit, we went to the Board of Trustees and made the case for this direction, and just minutes ago, they adopted it.”  

A total of 21,730 eligible entries were submitted for consideration this year, a record for the Grammys, and the Recording Academy said that of new members being invited, the Academy also saw its highest ever acceptance rate of 83%. Voter turnout was also the highest ever in this first round of voting and saw a 17% increase from last year.

The Recording Academy also defended the change by pointing to the Oscars and the Latin Grammys also already going to 10 nominees in major fields (the Oscars will feature 10 Best Picture nominees this year), even though those awards races receive far fewer submissions.

The 64th Annual Grammy Awards air on Monday, January 31, 2022 on CBS and will stream live on demand on Paramount+. Watch the livestream announcement for the 2022 Grammy Nominations here.

Below, read the full contents of the letter from Mason and Hurt.

Dear Members,

We are so excited to share with you a major change to the GRAMMY Awards. Effective this year, in our four general field categories – Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist – we are expanding the number of nominees from eight to ten.

We are living at a time of extraordinary growth in music. As many as 60,000 songs a day are being released or uploaded to streaming services. With so much more music available, there is simply more excellence to recognize – and celebrate. Adding new nominees to these fields is a way to cast a wider net, to make room for more artists and genres from music’s expansive and diverse landscape, and to embrace the spirit of inclusion.

Furthermore, we’re experiencing outstanding engagement from the music community. We are receiving a record number of entries each year and this year, a total of 21,730 eligible entries were submitted for GRAMMY consideration. We had our highest acceptance rate ever of a new member class, 83%, and we had a record number of voters in this round – a 17% increase from last year.

When we examined all of these data points, the Recording Academy felt strongly that the time had come to expand these categories and create more opportunities for music creators to be recognized.  Many other Award shows, including the Latin GRAMMYs and the Oscars, already honor ten nominees for their big categories, with far fewer submissions than we receive.

Finally, making this change is a way to elevate and honor you, our members. Earlier this year, when we eliminated the nominating committees, we said it was because our members were ready. You validated that change. New members joined the organization and you voted in record numbers. You brought your very best to evaluating the work of your peers, even with more submissions than ever before to assess.

From our perspective, the growth in music and your extraordinary engagement obligated us to seek this change. Perhaps in the past, the leadership would have waited for the next Awards cycle to make a change. But one thing that we’ve heard loud and clear from you is that you are tired of waiting for big changes. You asked for–and you deserve–an organization that is as nimble and brave as you. In that spirit, we went to the Board of Trustees and made the case for this direction, and they adopted it. 

We congratulate you and thank you for your service to your fellow music creators. Because of your dedication, passion and diligence, tomorrow, when the nominations for the 64th GRAMMY Awards are announced, we will be showcasing more artists and genres, and more accurately reflecting today’s bigger and bolder music ecosystem.

With gratitude,

Tammy Hurt, Chair of the Board of Trustees

Harvey Mason jr., CEO, Recording Academy

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