The Grammys Introduce Changes to Voting Rules to Help Independent Rap Artists

With an award show like the Grammys held in such high regard and looked forward to every year, it’s great to see constant revisions made to its criteria and procedure to keep up with the times. In a recent interview with Variety, Academy SVP of Awards Bill Freimuth explained some of the more major changes in how ballots are cast this year as well as qualifications for eligibility.




To start, voting members will now be able to vote for categories they’re designated to via a phone, laptop or tablet. This eliminates a lot of human error made with paper ballots, allows more freedom for traveling members and provides more information for the members via audio and video clips available through the site.

One of the more interesting moves by the Academy was setting up three Nominations Review Committees for the fields of Rap, Contemporary Instrumental and New Age. These are separate groups created to keep voting members in check, neutralizing some effect felt from marketing, name recognition and overall, popularity. They’ve done this in the past for Classical, Jazz and Rock, and it will help “eliminate the potential for a popularity bias that puts emerging artists, independent music, and late-year releases at a disadvantage.”

Among the other changes include two noteworthy ones. One being that songwriters who are credited for playing at least 33% of an album will now receive trophies if it wins Album of the Year. The second is that two versions of a song will now be eligible for nominations if one is used in a visual medium. A specific instance that pointed out this scenario was a Trolls soundtrack version of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” that couldn’t then be submitted as a part of his album. An argument was made that the film version, which featured Anna Kendrick and James Corden, was different enough from the original studio version.

Below is a rough breakdown of dates for the Grammys’ timeline. You can read more about the Grammys rules and regulations on its site.

Eligibility Period: Oct. 1, 2016 – Sept. 30, 2017
First-Round Ballot Period: Oct. 16–29, 2017
Nominations: Nov. 28, 2017
Final-Round Ballot Period: Dec. 7–21, 2017