The Recording Academy (Grammy’s governing board) announced some significant changes to the eligibility of awards on June 17th. Unlike the Academy Awards, who are hell-bent on being stuck in the past, the Recording Academy is adapting with the change of times. Streaming-only releases will now be eligible for consideration for Grammy nominations.
With the new preferred method for consuming multimedia being streaming, this change only makes sense. The biggest key to this shift is that the Recording Academy will only consider “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.” In other words, no free music will be allowed. Now, of course, the complaints will be made, but these changes are fair and provide the best snapshot of today’s listeners. Streaming services have surpassed CD sales for the last two years. Being proactive rather than reactive in its recognition in streaming services is one of the times that the Academy gets it right. This change falls in line with the RIAA and Billboard 1500-to-one metric of streaming equally to CD sale.
Some of the biggest music artists the last few years have released streaming-only first before releasing a physical copy later on. Beyoncé, Drake, and Chance the Rapper will all benefit from now said changes. The playing field is being leveled between physical and digital copy champs, Taylor Swift & Adele, who both decided not to allow streaming services to stream their newest albums. Adele’s latest album has now surfaced on Tidal for all to stream. More & more albums will be released as streaming and downloadable albums only, with physical copies in limited quantities.
A reflection of the shift in music also reflects the shift seen in film and other industries as well. As technology advances, so does the culture and industries. The powers-to-be must be aligned with these changes or risk being replaced. Like Jay-Z once proclaimed a few years ago ‘it’s New Rules’.