The Weeknd's Grammys Boycott Has Already Inspired One Major Change to Awards

The Grammys are making a huge change in the wake of The Weeknd's boycott. The New York Times reports that the governing body of the Grammy Awards voted on Friday to change its nominating process, cutting a long controversial step: the use of anonymous expert committees to decide who makes the final ballot in major categories. The Grammys' winners are decided by the Recording Academy, a nonprofit group comprised of major players in the industry.

According to the Times, there are "anonymous expert committees" within the Academy's memberships that get the final say on nominations in 61 of the 84 categories. These committees are installed in 1989 in order to check and balance the will of the voters, but a growing number of artists — particularly Black artists like Jay-Z, Drake, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean — say they only serve to let corruption into the award show and uphold an unequal status quo.

After his critically acclaimed, chart-topping album After Hours was completely shut out from the Grammy Awards in 2021, The Weeknd, real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, revealed that he would no longer submit his work for future Grammys because of the "corrupt" practices. "Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys," Tesfaye told the Times. His proposed lifelong boycott of the award show may seem extreme, but it was a powerful statement that echoed the very real concerns from many non-white performers who feel they are under-represented in recent years compared to their contributions to the industry.

Harvey Mason Jr., the interim chief executive of the Recording Academy, revealed in a statement that the decision by the academy’s board was part of “a year of unprecedented, transformational change” at the institution. "This is a new academy, one that is driven to action and that has doubled down on the commitment to meeting the needs of the music community," Mason explained. According to Mason, the proposal has been in the works for over a year and involved a special committee of academy members and leaders in the industry.

The Weeknd has yet to comment on this change to the Grammys and whether it will affect his decision to submit his work in future years. Hopefully, this decision will be a step forward in terms of representation and giving proper credit where credit is due.