Grammys Expand Number of Nominees in Four Top Categories

Posted June 26, 2018 2:28 p.m. EDT

The Grammy Awards will expand the number of nominees in its top categories from five to eight, a move that may help increase gender diversity after the awards were sharply criticized this year for their lack of recognition for women artists.

The change, announced Tuesday, will affect the four most prestigious categories: album, record and song of the year, and best new artist. (Record of the year recognizes a single recording, while the song prize is for songwriters.) The new rule will go into effect immediately, with members voting on nominations this fall for the 61st annual show next year.

“This change will better reflect the large number of entries in these categories and allow voters greater flexibility when selecting this year’s best recordings,” the Recording Academy, the organization behind the awards, said in a note to its members.

The revision comes after a rough season for the Grammys, when both the show and the management of the academy came under fire. At this year’s ceremony, in January, the sole woman nominated for album of the year — Lorde — did not have a solo performance spot, and just one woman was given a solo award in one of the handful of televised categories (Alessia Cara, for best new artist).

In addition, researchers at the University of Southern California published a report showing that women made up just 9.3 percent of Grammy nominees over the past five years in the top four categories, along with producer of the year. The study, released just before the Grammys, served as a grim report card for the music industry overall, but much of the resulting criticism was directed at the awards show.

In the aftermath of this year’s show, the Recording Academy appointed a task force to review diversity and other issues. And Neil Portnow, the academy’s president, announced he would step down in 2019 after being severely rebuked for a remark that women in music should “step up” to advance their careers.

The announcement Tuesday included several other updates, including the second tweak in four years to the definition of alternative music.

The last change had defined alternative as recordings “that take as a starting point any existing musical genre or combination of genres, and expand and redefine the boundaries of those genres.”

The new definition is more expansive, calling alternative “often a less intense version of rock or a more intense version of pop,” which “may embrace a variety of subgenres or any hybrids thereof and may include recordings that don’t fit into other genre categories.”