The Recording Academy, otherwise known as the folks who put on the annual music recording industry confab called the Grammys, announced today that after a year-long review review they were restructuring the Grammy categories for the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012. Reducing from 109 to 78 categories, the Academy reduced the 2 categories in the Children's Field to one, eliminating the separate awards for Musical Recording and Spoken Word.
On the one hand, this can clearly be seen as a shot at the Children's Spoken Word recordings -- some other changes in the voting process indicated that low numbers of relevant album submissions were clearly a concern, as categories with fewer than 40 entries will now have just 3 nominees, and entries with fewer than 25 will be suspended. The Spoken Word category has, for the past few years, hung around in that 25-40 range, while the Musical Recording field always has well more than 100, often approaching 200, entries.
Oddly enough, however, it's that small number of recordings that may just give the spoken word recordings a disproportionate share of the nominees in the new, combined category. Fewer nominees, easier to vote for. And that's not even getting into the discussion once the nominees are announced, when the "famous name" aspect of the spoken word category may make it even harder for great, "non-famous" musical artists to break through.
I could be wrong. I hope I am. But I think the likelihood of independent family musicians getting nominated for 2012 just went down fairly substantially.