The ever-unpredictable Grammys face new surprises

The academy has taken steps to address these issues, but whether that will be enough to stifle dissent remains to be seen. Last year it eliminated its longstanding use of anonymous selection committees to determine many candidates, which the Weeknd and others had called unfair. Yet just a day before this year’s roster was announced in November, academy rules were changed to add two ballot spots in the top four categories, allowing stars like West, Taylor Swift and Lil Nas X to get nominations. A few days later, Drake withdrew from competition in the two rap categories in which he was nominated, although he gave no explanation.

Harvey Mason Jr., the academy’s chief executive, said in an interview that the academy is working hard to regain the trust of its members. “My hope,” he said, “is that we will gain the trust of all those who were suspicious.”

So far, the music world seems willing to give the academy the benefit of the doubt.

“The problem with institutions like the Grammys is that there’s always a sense of nostalgia and tradition, so change is usually a little slower,” said Ghazi, the founder of indie music company Empire. “But some of the conversations we’ve had have been encouraging.”

Willie Stiggers, known as Prophet, artist manager and co-chair of the Black Music Action Coalition, said he takes Grammy executives at their word on their commitment to fostering diversity within the organization. “The Recording Academy is a reflection of American society,” he said. “It’s going to take more than a year or two to unpack all of this.”

One area where the Grammys, and the music industry as a whole, has shown a stubborn lack of progress is in the advancement of female creators. This week, the latest edition of an annual study by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that credits for women in pop have remained essentially flat over the past decade. Last year, just 23.3% of artists credited to the Top 100 Songs were women, while a 2019 Grammy-sponsored pledge to hire more female producers and engineers had almost no impact , according to the study.

“Despite activism and industry advocacy, there has been little change for women on the popular charts since 2012,” said Stacy L. Smith, one of the study’s authors, in a statement. communicated.