Jun 16, 2016
Stream-Only Releases Are Now Eligible To Win Grammy Awards
As a ‘90s baby, it’s difficult to remember the last time I used a CD without a sense of nostalgia. Most of the music I consume lacks materiality and individual price–I merely expect the subscription fee I pay to provide me with all of the MP3s my heart so desires. My age makes the accessible and instantaneous process of listening to music in the 21st century seem natural, while buying hard copies seems is more of a hazy, momentary phase from the past.
Because of my near exclusive interaction with streamed music, it’s pleasantly surprising to read today’s news from the Recording Academy, the organization responsible for handing out Grammys. The recent popularity of streaming-only releases has compelled the Academy to state that “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” will be eligible for awards at the 59th annual Grammys.
Since albums such as Kanye’s The Life of Pablo and Beyonce’s Lemonade were first released on stream-only site, Tidal–and Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book remains available only as a streaming album–this rule modification is certainly necessary. Chance’s record was the first stream-only release to chart on the Billboard 200, and now, it will be eligible to win a Grammy, so we’ll nickname this one the Chance rule. Although, there’s no amendment to the rule that music must be for sale in some way–the criteria that made Chance and Donnie Trumpet’s epic collaborative record Surf ineligible–both Chance and Donnie showed their support for the changes though.
The victory this morning isn't about me, it's about all the Soundcloud albums that may now be recognized for excellence.
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) June 16, 2016
The Grammys are part of a an amorphous music industry. I'm happy they see now that as music and the way we consume music evolves so do they.
— nico (@nicosegal) June 16, 2016
Beyond the rule change for streaming albums, the Academy is also expanding their Rap/Sung Collaboration category to Rap/Sung Performance. This means that artists who play with a hybrid of rapping and singing are eligible for the award, not only tracks that employ two performers to combine the two styles. (Maybe we’ll nickname this one the Drake rule?) It’s refreshing to see institutions like the Academy embrace the malleability of forms of creation rather than trying to enforce tradition.
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