Two years ago, the Grammy Awards abruptly increased the number of nominees permitted in its top categories, going to 10 slots on the ballot, from eight. Now, it is going back.
The Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, said on Friday that the number of nominees would once again be set at eight in the four top categories — album, record and song of the year, and best new artist — for the 66th annual awards, scheduled to be presented in early 2024.
Among other tweaks to the awards rules is the addition of two categories to the all-genre “general” field: producer of the year, nonclassical, and songwriter of the year, nonclassical, a new prize introduced at the most recent ceremony, in February. This change — the first addition to the general field since 1959 — would allow all the academy’s voting members to cast votes in those categories.
The move to 10 nominees, decided by the board just one day before nominations were announced in 2021, made the always-surprising Grammy process even more unpredictable. Some voters complained privately that broadening the field lowered the mandate for winners too far, allowing — theoretically, at least — one artist to prevail with little more than 10 percent of the vote.
Harvey Mason Jr., the chief executive of the academy, said in an interview this week that the organization had not heard any such complaints, but he acknowledged that similar questions were on the minds of board members when they voted last month to change the rules.
“Does the vote get split? Is 10 too many? Does it minimize the nomination?” Mason said. “All these conversations were happening in trying to find what is the best number.”
At the Grammy ceremony in February, Harry Styles won album of the year for “Harry’s House,” beating out releases by Beyoncé, Adele, Kendrick Lamar and Bad Bunny.
The change announced Friday is the third of its kind in five years. In 2018, the academy increased the ballot from five to eight; three years later, it went from eight to 10.
In another shift, the Grammys are setting a new eligibility threshold for collaborators on album of the year. In recent years, the Grammys have required that contributors like songwriters, engineers and guest performers appear on at least 33 percent of an album’s playing time, but for the 2022 awards, that bar was reduced to zero — a change that in some cases resulted in more than 100 names appearing in the nomination.
That threshold has now been raised to 20 percent, which should cull many songwriters and other contributors who appear on just one or two tracks on a typical album.
Among other changes, the academy is introducing three awards for next year: best African music performance, best pop dance recording and best alternative jazz album.
Those additions bring the total for the 66th ceremony to 94 categories, a number that has been growing rapidly. As recently as three years ago, the Grammys had 84.
In another change that raised some eyebrows in the music industry, the Grammys shifted the eligibility period for the 2024 awards twice recently, first announcing an 11-month window and then adding two weeks two it, resulting in an unusual eligibility period of 11 and a half months, covering Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 15, 2023.