General Field. It was determined that, in deference to the historical legacy, iconic status and continuing comfort level with the General Field categories, that they be left unchanged.
Mainstream Fields. (Pop, Rock, R&B, Rap, Country) It was deemed most appropriate to look at the more mainstream fields as a group, as well as individually. The desire was not only to tighten the number of categories in general, but to create a sense of parallel structure among these fields. For example, it was determined that each should have four categories in total. As to specifics:
- Pop. Though the sheer number of entries made it difficult to fathom at first, the decision was to eliminate the distinctions between male and female solo artists and between collaborations and existing duos/groups. In the track categories, there also now is no distinction between vocal and instrumental performance, though it was believed that this distinction was still important in the album realm. Pop Instrumental Album remains relevant due to its breadth and inclusiveness of popular instrumental forms.
- Rock. In this field, to get to the four categories that make the most sense, the distinction between solo and duo/group performances was restructured. Four-fifths of rock acts are groups, and even solo rock acts tend to be backed by a band. As the distinction was often hairsplitting, Hard Rock and Metal were combined. Due to a waning number of entries, Rock Instrumental was folded in with the other performance categories.
- R&B. As with pop, male and female categories were combined. As with rock, solo and group categories were combined. Furthermore, what made most sense to the R&B expert members of the subcommittee was to maintain the distinction between R&B and traditional R&B in the performance (single/track) categories, but to combine Contemporary R&B Album and R&B Album.
- Rap. The only change here was to fold the solo and duo/group performance categories into one, as with Rock and R&B. Most entries that had lived in the duo/group category were collaborations between solo artists.
- Country. Again following the leads from the fields above, the male and female performance has been consolidated, and collaborations now go to the duo/group category. Country Instrumental was eliminated both due to the exceedingly low number of entries and the move of Bluegrass Album to the American Roots field (which bars bluegrass tracks from being entered here).
Other Fields. Each of the remaining 24 fields was examined individually. There was an attempt to maintain the parallel vision set forth above when possible and appropriate, though this could not always be the case. As to specifics:
- Gospel. For this field, it was determined that there are two distinct wings to the gospel house: Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and Urban or Soul Gospel, and these two groups share in their overall mission. Additionally, it was determined that the word "Gospel" tends to conjure up the images and sounds of traditional soul gospel and not CCM. With this in mind, it was decided not only to rename each of the categories, but also the entire field. As to category restructuring, it was determined that album and songwriting categories are of highest importance; Gospel and CCM each now have one category for each. For The Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance category, it was determined that this was an area in which the two branches of the field could participate together.
- Latin. There was a need seen to examine the album categories here. Pop was merged with rock, alternative and urban. It also was determined that musical distinctions among some of the regional Mexican subgenres were often very difficult to draw, so the restructuring in categories was warranted.
- Dance, Traditional Pop, Alternative Music, New Age, Reggae, Spoken Word, Comedy, Music Video, and Production, Classical. These 10 fields were all examined in detail and found to have enough entries and to be appropriate, meaningful and relevant as they currently stand.
- Craft Fields: Composing/Arranging, Package, Notes, Historical, Production, and Production, Surround Sound. These six fields were all examined and discussed, and they were found to be appropriately structured.
- Film, TV or Other Visual Media: While none of the categories nor their criteria have changed, it was determined that a new name for the Field (with parenthetical descriptor) and Categories would be both forward-thinking and more inclusive.
- Musical Show: While the Field and Category remain intact in every way, it was determined that new name for it would be a more accurate description of appropriate entries here and may help to encourage entries from non-Broadway musical theater production recordings.
- Jazz. With the desire to parallel structure to the fields, it was determined the distinction between contemporary and other forms of jazz be reorganized. (Most entries from this category will go into Jazz Instrumental Album.) Also the distinction between Latin and non-Latin jazz was restructured, largely due to the very low number of entries in the Latin jazz category; these entries will go to Vocal Album, Instrumental Album or Large Jazz Ensemble Album, depending upon content.
- American Roots Music. The traditional and contemporary blues categories and the traditional and contemporary folk categories each were consolidated into one per genre, due to the number of entries and given the challenges in distinguishing between Contemporary Folk and Americana and Contemporary and Traditional Blues. There has been a great deal of concern over the consistently low entries in the Hawaiian, Native American and Cajun/Zydeco Categories. It was believed best to continue to honor such regional music, but to do it all together, recognizing the very cream of this crop, with one category: Regional Roots Music. This has a pattern/precedent in Regional Mexican Music and would incorporate Hawaiian, Cajun/Zydeco, Native American, and Polka music (which has a regional home in the Great Lakes states).
- World Music. To reflect both our consolidation efforts and the low number of entries in the traditional category, the traditional and contemporary categories have been merged.
- Children's. The committee passed the proposal that a return to one category for all types of recordings for children, as it was from 1958-1993, would be most appropriate in this new context.
- Classical. The decision was made to restructure the Best Classical Album because nearly all recipients of this distinction had also won in one of the other classical categories for the same album. The consolidations of this category will open the door for classical recordings to enter Album Of The Year. As to other changes, the chamber category was folded into the small ensemble category, the only distinction having been the number of players in the group (chamber being smaller), and the fact that small ensemble recording could, though not necessarily, employ a conductor. The two instrumental solo categories (with and without orchestra) were combined, and the classical crossover category was consolidated as it has often been viewed as an artificially constructed and/or consumer-confusing category. (Entries that may have lived here in the classical crossover will be screened into other classical, new age, pop, and various categories as deemed appropriate by screening committees.)