In an unprecedented move that seemed inevitable in the digital age, the Recording Academy has announced today that streaming only recordings will now be eligible for Grammy consideration. The amendment will take effect for the 2017 Grammy Awards with the eligibility schedule between Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016.
In a press release, the Academy describes eligible streaming only recordings as music "released via general distribution, defined as the nationwide release of a recording via brick and mortar, third-party online retailers, and/or applicable digital streaming services. Applicable streaming services are paid subscription, full catalog, 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."
For those wondering: yes, this means Chance the Rapper and his new mixtape Coloring Book will be eligible for Grammy consideration. The question came into play after a petition was made to allow free music—in particular Chance's Coloring Book—to be eligible for the Grammys, a petition Chance signed. 20 years from now, we may be calling this the "Chance Rule." However, the always humble Chance took to Twitter to tell the fans the "victory this morning isn't about me, it's about all the Soundcloud albums that may now be recognized for excellence." Chance's Surf collaborator, Donnie Trumpet, echoed the sentiment in a series of tweets thanking the Grammys for their growth.
Bill Freimuth, Senior Vice President of Awards for the Recording Academy, spoke on the decision to make this amendment, along with a few others. "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," he said. "I'm proud of this year's changes because they're a testament to the artists, producers, 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."
Another amendment that will take place is a decrease in categories for Academy members to vote on. They previously were allowed to vote on 20 categories plus the four general field categories (Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best New Artist). That number goes down to 15.
A change has also been made to the Best New Artist category. The amendment goes as such:
- Must have released a minimum of five singles/tracks or one album, but no more than 30 singles/tracks or three albums.
- May not have entered into this category more than three times, including as a performing member of an established group.
- Must have achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape during the eligibility period.
One more notable change: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration has now been redefined as Best Rap/Sung Performance. The category is now "intended to recognize solo and collaborative performances containing elements of R&B and rap in melody and song. In the case of a collaboration of artists who don’t usually perform together, one of the collaborating artists should be credited and recognized as a featured artist."