Coming to the Grammy Awards next year: a new songwriter of the year award.
That award, given in recognition of “writing excellence, the profession and the art of songwriting,” is one of the few adjustments to the Grammy rules for the 65th annual ceremony.
Four more new categories are coming, including best alternative music performance, American music performance, spoken word poetry album and soundtrack for video games and other interactive media, the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, announced Thursday. There will also be a new merit award for the best song for social change, chosen by a special committee.
The biggest change is the songwriter award. Since the first Grammy ceremony in 1959, song of the year has been one of the most prestigious awards, going to songwriters of a single song. The first winners were Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno, for “Nel Blu, Dipinto di Blu” (better known as “Volare”), and the most recent award went to Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and two collaborators for “Leave the Door Open ”. .”
In recent years, songwriters have been pushing the Recording Academy for more recognition, which has come gradually. At the 60th annual Grammy Awards in 2018, songwriters were added to the ballot for album of the year, though only if they contributed at least 33 percent of an LP; for the 2022 show, that limit was removed, allowing any credited songwriter of new material to be nominated. (Samples don’t count, and neither do old song writers; hence Cole Porter’s omission this year for Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s “Love for Sale” album.) In 2021, the academy created a songwriters and songwriters wing for its members.
The new category, officially called Composer of the Year (Non-Classical), although there is no classical counterpart, will go to a single composer or a team of writers for a given piece of work. A similar approach has long been taken for Producer of the Year.
“The intent of this new category is to recognize professional songwriters who write songs for other artists to earn a living,” said Harvey Mason Jr., executive director of the Recording Academy. “This dedicated award highlights the importance of songwriting’s significant contribution to the musical process, and as a non-acting songwriter, I’m excited to see this award come to life.”
Among the other changes this year is the establishment of “craft committees” in three classic categories. Stunt teams will have the final say on the ballot for Producer of the Year (Classical), Best Engineered Album (Classical) and Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The change follows some grumbling in the classical world about last year’s nomination of Jon Batiste, the jazz bandleader and TV personality who won album of the year, for the award for contemporary composition. (The award went to Caroline Shaw.)
The change is notable as last year the academy did away with its controversial nominating committees, which acted as an invisible hand in dozens of categories, though craft committees were retained for categories like engineering and packaging that require special expertise.
The new categories come after a series of sales more than a decade ago. In 2011, for example, the academy eliminated 31 categories, consolidating many separate awards for men and women and cutting some in fields like classical and Latin. Two years earlier, the polka category, where annual submissions had been reduced to just 20 titles, was dropped after 24 years.
The last Grammy ceremony, in April, featured 86 categories. In the first, there were 28.