The 54th Grammy Awards

Kanye West, Steve Jobs and Yo-Yo Ma may not seem like they have much in common. However, they have all been recipients of the most highly regarded award in the music industry: The Grammy.

Something can be said for any ceremony that invites rap artists, music technology visionaries and classical musicians to the same hall.

But in recent years artists such as Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer of the band Tool, have challenged the concept of the awards ceremony.

Keenan argued that by having experts in the recording industry choose the nominations, the award ceremony is only awarding mainstream music culture and thus further promoting the same music that is already making billions in the industry.

His argument is well supported by evidence. While categories such as best new artist may seem like an effort to include lesser-known artists, the artists in this category are not “new” in any respect.

The new artist award is given to artists who have already emerged in the media instead of artists who are newly signed. This year’s Best New Artist was Bon Iver, who also won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

In 2009, Lady Gaga was excluded from the best new artist category because she had been nominated in other categories as well. Her situation created “the Lady Gaga rule,” which allows artists who have been nominated for other categories to also be nominated for Best New Artist. The modification to the system only makes it easier for one or two artists to dominate the ceremonies.

This year Adele raised controversy by winning six of the major awards, including Artist of the Year, Best Recording and Best Song. In 2010, many were shocked when Beyoncé won six out of the ten Grammys she was nominated for. The rationale behind the decisions are not made public, which is another flaw.

The number of categories this year has also been slimmed down. Categories such as Hawaiian, Native American and zydeco/Cajun music were eliminated.

Changes such as these have caused the Grammys to become even more focused on one or two well-known artists instead of awarding a wide variety.