The Recording Academy has changed its rules so that streaming-only releases are now eligible for Grammys. Previously, recordings had to be playable on a CD player – or at least be downloadable – in order to be considered for a golden Gramophone trophy.
The Academy announced a number of revisions and clarifications to its policies Thursday, with its recognition of streaming-only releases the most impactful. Under the new rules, for example, Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book, which made it to Number Eight on the Billboard 200, would now be eligible. For a streaming-only LP to be eligible for 2017's awards ceremony, it must have been released between October 1st, 2015 and September 30th, 2016. They must also have been available on a major, paid-subscription streaming service at a high-definition quality comparable to that of a compact disc, such as Tidal's top-tier service.
The Recording Academy also changed the way Best New Artist nominees are picked. Contenders previously had to have put out an album, but now the Academy will consider those that have released between five and 30 tracks or a maximum of three albums. Artists are not eligible if they've been nominated in the category more than three times or a member of a group that has been nominated more than three times. They also must have "achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape during the eligibility period."
The next Grammys will also feature two blues categories in place of Best Blues Album. These will be Best Traditional Blues Album and Best Contemporary Blues Album, the latter of which could include elements of hip-hop and rock as a defining characteristic. The Recording Academy has also replaced the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category with the more precise Best Rap/Sung Performance.
The Recording Academy will host the 59th annual Grammy Awards on February 12th, 2017.