As the music industry looks towards the future, many music award shows are trying to stay ahead of the curve. Following what the Grammys did a few years ago, the Brit and ARIA awards are scraping gendered music categories in favor of gender-neutral ones. While many are praising the change, others are looking at the outside of the down-the-road issues it may pose. Regardless of the outcome, a push for more inclusion in the music industry is never a dull thing.
Back in March, Sam Smith, one of Britain’s biggest artists, was very vocal about Brit Awards’ lack of genderless categories. Smith took to social media to voice his displeasure.
“The Brits have been an important part of my career, one of my earliest achievements was winning Critic’s Choice in 2014,” Smith wrote in their statement. “Music for me has always been about unification, not division. I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in. Let’s celebrate everybody, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality, and class.”
It seems Brit Awards is finally making the change for their 2022 event. After dropping the best male solo artist, best female solo artist, best international male solo artist, and best international female solo artist, Brit Awards will replace them with the artist of the year and international artist of the year. When asked about the change, Brit Awards wanted to reward artists “solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them, as part of The Brits’ commitment to evolving the show to be as inclusive and as relevant as possible.”
Queen guitarist, Brian May, is very against the idea of Brit Awards’ new change. He spoke about the change beginning not being looked at properly.
“It’s a decision that has been made without enough thought. A lot of things work quite well and can be left alone,” May said.
May touched more about it while linking it to cancel culture. May felt there was an “atmosphere of fear everywhere because people are afraid to say how they really think,” before adding, “I think so many people are feeling, ‘Hang on, this isn’t quite right.’ But they don’t dare say anything. Eventually, there will be some kind of explosion.”
“I get so sick of people trying to change things without thinking of the long-term consequences,” he added. “Some of these things are an improvement, some of them are not.”
Brit Awards isn’t the only award following this change as ARIA, Australia’s most high-profile music ceremony is pushing change as well. Going into effect next award season, ARIA will remove the best male and best female awards. An award for the best artist will be introduced, and the number of nominees will be expanded from five to 10. The Australian Recording Industry Association’s chief executive, Annabelle Herd spoke about the change being needed in today’s society.
“The time for separating artists based on gendered categories that exclude non-binary artists altogether has passed. The music industry is demanding a more equal, inclusive, safe, and supportive space for everyone and Aria is working hard to achieve that across the Aria Awards and everything we do.”
According to The Guardian, The Grammys have been gender-neutral since 2012 and, according to an analysis by Statista, since 2013 about 45% of Grammy nominees for the best new artist award have been female.