Academy Approves GRAMMY Category Amendments

Alterations to Awards process affect Best New Artist category, Classical Field and Recording Academy-produced performances
July 07, 2010 -- 9:39 am PDT

As it continually evolves its Awards process, The Recording Academy today announced amendments to eligibility rules in the Best New Artist category, the Classical Field, and for Recording Academy-produced performances. These new guidelines will go into effect immediately for the upcoming 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 13, 2011. The total number of GRAMMY categories remains 109.

"Every year, we diligently examine our Awards process to ensure that it remains relevant within the current musical landscape," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "These eligibility amendments recognize present trends in music and our Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its dedication to keeping The Recording Academy a pertinent and responsive organization in our dynamic music community."

Eligibility Amendments

Best New Artist
New artists have at least one chance to compete in the Best New Artist category, provided that the artist has not already won a GRAMMY. The current eligibility requirements state that the artist must have released, as a featured performing artist, at least one album but not more than three; and the artist must not have been entered for Best New Artist more than three times, including as a performing member of an established group. Any previous GRAMMY nomination for the artist as performer precludes eligibility in the Best New Artist category (including a nomination as an established performing member of a nominated group).

These rules remain in effect with the following exception: If an artist/group is nominated (but does not win) for the release of a single or as a featured artist or collaborator on a compilation or other artist's album before the artist/group has released an entire album (and becomes eligible in this category for the first time), the artist/group may enter this category in the eligibility year during which his/her/their first album is released.

More and more, the first release of a new artist is as a featured artist on someone else's album, or the new artist may release a single long before the release of his/her/their entire first album. By current rules, if the other artist's album or the new artist's single receives a nomination, the new artist may never have the opportunity to compete in the Best New Artist category. With this change, each artist will have at least one opportunity to enter in this important and highly visible category.

Classical Field — Eligibility Of Special Releases
The current rule states that all entries in all fields and categories must be previously unreleased and newly recorded. For purposes of eligibility, The Academy defines "newly recorded" as product that has been recorded within five years of the release date and not previously released. The only categories that allow entries not newly recorded are: Best Historical Album (intended specifically for older recordings provided they are straight reissues), Best Compilation Soundtrack Album, Best Recording Package (if package is new), Best Surround Sound Album, and Best Album Notes (if notes are new).

This rule remains in effect with the following addition: Multi-disc (boxed set) releases in the Classical Field that contain 100 percent previously unreleased material, employ a single artist or ensemble only, and contain the work of a single composer only will still be allowed if more than 51 percent of the whole was recorded more than five years previous to the release date.

As the bicentennials of several big-name composers approach, there are more multi-year projects in which a single artist or ensemble is recording a complete cycle of a particular composer's works (i.e., complete string quartets, complete symphonies, complete flute sonatas). Rather than releasing one disc at a time as they are recorded, the artists and/or labels are choosing to wait until the cycle is complete and release a multi-disc set. These projects may run 10 or more years and may constitute what is essentially the life's work of the artist. Such efforts should be eligible for GRAMMY consideration in the eligibility year within which they are released.

Producer Of The Year, Classical
The current rule states that a minimum of three separately released recordings are required to qualify for entry in this category. A multi-record set of a single work is considered one recording. A maximum of five albums, released for the first time during the eligibility period, may be listed.

In parity with the Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical category, the new rule changes the minimum number of albums for Producer Of The Year, Classical from three to one. (Minimum track entries for Classical are not necessary, as almost all Classical albums have only one producer or a team that works on the project as a whole.) A producer must have production credits for 51 percent or more playing time of the album in order for it to qualify. If the album is self-produced, production credits must include at least one recording for a different artist. Minimum qualifications may be satisfied by combining a producer's solo efforts with his/her team efforts. Producers may enter as a team only if they have worked together exclusively during the eligibility year. Not more than six recordings may be listed on the final ballot. (If more than six are entered, the producer will make the final decision in consultation with awards staff.)

This change was made in fairness to classical producers, to remain consistent with the other producer category, and in recognition of classical production realities. Currently, the Producer Of The Year, Classical category requires a minimum of three separately released recordings for entrants to qualify. In the non-classical category, one album or six tracks is all that is necessary to qualify.

Recording Academy-Produced Performances
In recent years, performances on GRAMMY telecasts have been made available for commercial purchase via online digital media stores such as iTunes. According to current general guidelines, these digital releases may be submitted for GRAMMY consideration. To maintain the integrity of The Recording Academy and to be completely impartial in our Awards process, all GRAMMY telecast performances — and all performances recorded during any Recording Academy, Latin Recording Academy, GRAMMY Museum, GRAMMY Foundation, or MusiCares event — are ineligible for GRAMMY consideration. Any such submission will be deleted during the verification process with notification sent to the entrant.

These changes were voted on and passed at The Recording Academy's recent semiannual Board of Trustees meeting. The Trustees of The Academy, along with Academy senior staff, Chapter Regional Directors, Executive Directors, and Chapter Presidents, met with agendas designed to strategically chart the course of The Academy. 

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