Today, the Recording Academy has announced some changes that will dramatically impact the Grammy Award nominations in 2017.
Not only will there be a reduction in the number of categories a member can vote upon, but songs only available on streaming services can now be nominated for an award. So, artists like Chance the Rapper who exclusively release their music on paid streaming services like Apple Music, will now qualify for a Grammy nomination.
Bill Freimuth, the Academy’s Senior Vice President of Awards, says…
”We noticed that there were a number of higher-profile artists who were choosing — for philosophical reasons as much as anything — to release their music through streaming-only, and we did not want to be exclusionary toward them.”
The ‘Best New Artist’ category has also been updated. Previously an artist had to have an album to qualify, but now an artist just needs to have 5 songs released. Also, the ‘Best Rap/Sung Collaboration’ is now titled ‘Best Rap/Sung Performance’. Prior to the changes, the award was exclusive to collaborations only, but now a featured artists, or an artist who sings in both styles in a song (like Drake) can be nominated.
The ‘Best Blues Album’ category has also been broken down into two separate groups, ‘Traditional Blues Album’ and ‘Contemporary Blues Album’.
”The effort here is to protect the integrity of the Grammy Awards, and so sometimes that means typing up some rules, and sometimes that means loosening up some rules, sometimes that means contracting a category, sometimes that means adding a category. It’s all to best reflect the current state of music in this country,” adds Freimuth.
The updates in the categories make sense in this ever-changing music industry. But, the inclusion of streaming-only albums is by far the biggest change. The Recording Academy simply needed to take streaming into account given its recent surges. But some artists are drawing serious cash from exclusive streaming releases, often before a digital download or physical release.