Technically, snagging a Best New Artist Grammy nomination just got easier. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) announced this week that the category will no longer be barred to artists who'd previously been nominated "for the release of a single, or as a featured artist or collaborator on a compilation or other artist’s album." The change — informally dubbed the "Gaga Rule" — comes after Lady Gaga was notoriously denied a 2010 Best New Artist nomination because her single "Just Dance" was in competition the year before. Not everyone, however, sees the rule tweak as an improvement. (See this past year's nominees)

Fair is fair: This is fantastic, says Becky Bain in Idolator. Now artists like up-and-comer Janelle Monae — who "was nominated in 2009 for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for 'Many Moons,' but didn’t win" — can qualify. Not incidentally, "Monae is our No. 1 pick" to win Best New Artist in 2011.
"Grammys change Best New Artist rules one year too late for Gaga"

What about the little guy? The change certainly helps performers like Drake, already "one of the world's most popular artists," says Todd Martens in the Los Angeles Times. Unfortunately, it could also "shut the doors for even more for lesser-known artists." If Lady Gaga had received the New Artist "nod" in 2010, for instance, she "would have locked out an act such as MGMT, the Silversun Pickups, [or] the Ting-Tings." So much for best new artists actually being new.
"After Gaga drama, Grammys amend best new artist rules"

Keep it moving: NARAS's changes, however, don't "go far enough," says Melinda Newman in Hit Fix. To "move into the digital age," they also need to amend the "three-album rule" — which states that musicians can't qualify for the Best New Artist category unless they've released at least one album, but no more than three. As albums become less of a factor, they should change the terminology to "track" to acknowledge breakthrough artists "who might not have had an album drop yet, but have had significant impact through [digital] singles."
"Grammys new artist rule changes and why they didn't go far enough"