President of The Recording Academy Neil Portnow poses in the press room at the 60th annual Grammy Awards in New York. Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

New York — The Grammy Awards are extending the number of nominees in its top categories from five to eight.

The Recording Academy told its members in a letter released Tuesday that the nominee increase "will better reflect the large number of entries in these categories and allow voters greater flexibility when selecting this year's best recordings."

"Throughout the year, we team up with music people across all genres and disciplines to consider revisions and subsequently make amendments to our rules and entry guidelines to ensure we're keeping up with our ever-changing industry and meeting the needs of music creators," said Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow in a statement. 

"This creates more opportunities for a wider-range of recognition in these important categories and gives more flexibility to our voters when having to make the often challenging decisions about representing excellence and the best in music for the year. We look forward to celebrating all of our nominees when they are announced later this year."

Album of the year, song of the year, record of the year and best new artist are the categories that will be affected. The change comes months after the Grammys were criticised for the lack of women nominees at this year's show.

For years, the organisation has been called out for the lack of diversity in the top categories, where awards tend to skip hip-hop or R&B stars.