The Academy of Country Music will not be handing out an award for New Duo or Group of the Year at the 2020 ACM Awards ceremony, having determined that no rising acts are eligible this year.
According to reporting by The Boot, voting for the ACM Awards’ first round opened earlier this week for all categories except for New Duo or Group, which instead is marked with a note reading “No Eligible Artists in this category and will not be awarded this year.”
Per ACM voting guidelines, eligibility requirements are well defined and strictly interpreted. Potential nominees must gain “initial fame or significantly greater recognition during the promotion of a debut or sophomore album within the eligibility period,” which basically means any act on its third album cannot be considered. But the nominee must also have had a Top 40 single on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart or Country Aircheck’s radio chart in that time, while other rules prevent an act from being nominated more than twice in a three year period or including a member who has gained signifcant success in another genre. It all adds up to the conclusion that emerging acts like The Highwomen, Runaway June, High Valley and Gone West are out of luck this year, along with previous winners like LANCO and Midland.
While interesting, it’s not all that uncommon for the category to go unfilled. No award for New Duo or Group was given out in 2015, 2014, 2012, 2005 or 2004, and it only became a regular part of the show in 1990. Furthermore, the awards for New Male Artist and New Female will still be presented at this year’s show, set to take place in Las Vegas on April 5.