By Amanda Wicks
The music landscape is changing thanks to streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and now the increasingly exclusive TIDAL, so it makes sense that the National Academy of Arts and Sciences (NARAS) would need to keep up by amending how it awards artists and musicians.
The organization announced today (July 16) that streaming-only recordings will now be eligible to participate in GRAMMY categories.
In a press release, the Recording Academy stated, “Previous eligibility guidelines required recordings to be commercially available via general distribution or digital recordings/downloads, thereby precluding works released solely through streaming services.” That will change for the new voting season, which covers October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. Artists can release music to streaming-only sites without also making it available to purchase or download and still qualify for consideration.
Although the Academy didn’t state as much, the new rule change seems to be in response to Chance the Rapper’s May petition. At the time, he asked the Academy to consider streaming-only songs for nomination, according to XXL. Oftentimes rappers release free mixtapes, which fans adore, but which fail to qualify for awards.
Chance tweeted his excitement about the change. “The victory this morning isn’t about me, it’s about all the Soundcloud albums that may now be recognized for excellence,” he wrote.
The victory this morning isn't about me, it's about all the Soundcloud albums that may now be recognized for excellence.—
Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) June 16, 2016
The Academy also changed requirements for its Best New Artist category to reflect the way new artists break. Instead of requiring nominees to have an album out, eligible artists “Must have released a minimum of five singles/tracks or one album, but no more than 30 singles/tracks or three albums.”
The GRAMMYs also announced that members will only be able to vote in 15 categories. Previously, all members could vote in up to 20 categories, but the Recording Academy wanted to “encourage members to vote only in those categories in which they are most knowledgeable, passionate, and qualified.”