Grammys: Streaming-only tracks now eligible to compete
New York: Changes at the Grammy Awards include members voting in fewer categories at the 2017 show and songs only released on streaming services being in contention for nomination.
The Recording Academy announced changes Thursday that will impact the 2017 Grammys, to be presented 12 February in Los Angeles. Streaming-only recordings — released on paid-subscription platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal but not for sale on iTunes — will now qualify for Grammy nominations.
"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," Bill Freimuth, the academy's senior vice president of awards, said in an interview.
Some acts, including Prince and Beyonce, have exclusively debuted music on Tidal. They later released the music on iTunes and other platforms. Chance the Rapper's project, Colouring Book, was released exclusively on Apple Music and will have a chance to compete.
Other changes include the number of categories that Grammy members can vote in, which is reduced to 15 from 20. That number doesn't include the top four categories — album of the year, song of the year, record of the year and best new artist — which all members are allowed to vote in. They were approved last month during the annual board of trustees meeting.
The best new artist category — often revamped to keep up with the changing music industry — will now allow a performer that releases at least five singles to qualify. Previously, acts would have to release an album. Best new artist isn't only for brand-new acts: Acts qualify until they release three albums or 30 singles.
The best rap/sung collaboration, awarded to rap and R&B acts that team up on a track, is being renamed to best rap/sung performance. And the award is no longer exclusive to collaborations: Solo acts who sing and rap on a track — including Drake, Future and Chris Brown — can now compete in the category with a song featuring both vocal styles.
"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," Freimuth said. "It's all to best reflect the current state of music in this country."
Other changes include splitting best blues album into two categories — best traditional blues album and best contemporary blues album.
Songs and albums released between 1 October, 2015 and 30 September, 2016 will be eligible for nomination at the 2017 Grammys. Nominations will be announced 6 December, 2016.