In an announcement Wednesday morning, the Recording Academy said it will cut the number of categories from 109 to 78 and change the voting process for the awards.
"The message isn't about cutting, it's about changing the way we present the awards," said President and CEO Neil Portnow, according to the LA Times. "We welcome all artists who make music in the Grammy process, it's just going to look a little different."
So how does one not make it about cutting while reducing the number of categories? Consolidating. At the Grammys' official website, the Recording Academy has posted a side-by-side comparison of the awards offered in 2011 and what will be offered in 2012.
Good news: Best New Age Album remains unscathed! Genres with one category (such as Best New Age Album) seem undisturbed while genres such as R&B will be trimmed from eight caegories to four.
For example, the LA Times reports that "Best Contemporary R&B Album" has been eliminated and "Best R&B Album" remains. "Best R&B Album" will accommodate artists who may have gone back and forth between both categories.
The rule changes, including how nominations are determined within categories and voting, are a little more inside-baseball, but here's how the nominating works (I've quoted directly from the Recording Academy's website):
It is now expected that each Category shall have at least 40 distinct artist entries, up from 25. If a Category receives between 25 - 39 entries, only three recordings would receive nominations that year. Should there be fewer than 25 entries in a Category, that Category would immediately go on hiatus for the current year -- no award given -- and entries would be screened into the next most logical Category. If a Category receives fewer than 25 entries for three consecutive years, the Category would be discontinued, and submissions would be entered in the next most appropriate Category.
For the changes in voting rules, click here.
Portnow said the changes will not turn the Grammys into a popularity contest and called other music awards shows "variety programs," according to the LA Times.