Grammy Eligibility Rules Changed To Incorporate Streaming

The Recording Academy

The Recording Academy has shifted its rules to include streaming-only projects as eligible for Grammy consideration. For the next ballot, recordings must be available to the public as stand-alone purchases or streams between Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016.

The Recording Academy previously considered general distribution to be “sales by label to a branch or recognized independent distributor, via the internet, or mail order/retail sales for a nationally marketed product.” However the news guidelines include streaming services, which are “paid subscription, full catalogue, on-demand streaming/limited download platforms that have existed as such within the United States for at least one full year as of the submission deadline.”

This would include Spotify (paid tiers), Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play, etc., while product released only to Pandora, which has no on-demand service, would not qualify.

The change was one of five changes outlined for next year’s Grammy Awards, which will be held Feb. 12.

For example, the number of categories in which Academy members may vote has decreased from 20 to 15, plus the four General Field categories, which include Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.

The Best New Artist guidelines have also shifted toward streaming with the removal of the album requirement, a nod to how new artists release music. Under the new guidelines, an artist must have released a minimum of five tracks/singles, or one album, but no more than 30 singles/tracks, or three albums. A new artist may not have entered the category more than three times, including as a performing member of an established group, and must have achieved a breakthrough in the public consciousness during the eligibility period.

The category of Best Blues Album has been split into two categories: Best Traditional Blues Album and Best Contemporary Blues Album.

Meanwhile, the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration has been renamed Best Rap/Sung Performance, and now recognizes solo and collaborative performances that contain elements of R&B and rap in its melody and song. The new definition includes recordings by solo artists who blur the lines between rapping and singing.

“The Grammys aren’t just peer-awarded, they’re peer-driven. Throughout the year, members of the music community come to us asking to make changes to the Awards process, and we work with them to figure out how those changes might work,” said Bill Freimuth, Senior Vice President of Awards for The Recording Academy. “I’m proud of this year’s changes because they’re a testament to the artists, producers, and writers – the people who rolled up their sleeves to shape the proposals and, in turn, the future of the Grammys. It’s exactly what they should be doing. It’s their award.”


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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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