"I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the GRAMMY." So spat Chance the Rapper on Kanye West's The Life of Pablo opener "Ultralight Beam," lamenting the ineligibility of his then-TBD third mixtape. Sure enough, Chance stuck to his I-don't-ever-sell-music guns and dropped the incredible Coloring Book as a streaming-only project, first on Apple Music, then everywhere else.
And now he might snatch the GRAMMY without having ever sold it. The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences—a.k.a. the Recording Academy, a.k.a. the GRAMMYs people—announced on Thursday that commercially unavailable projects that only exist in streaming form can now be nominated. The rule has been backdated to Oct. 1, 2015.
Here's what the Recording Academy's senior vice president of awards, Bill Freimuth, had to say in a statement:
"The GRAMMYs aren't just peer-awarded, they're peer-driven. Throughout the year, members of the music community come to us asking to make changes to the Awards process, and we work with them to figure out how those changes might work. I'm proud of this year's changes because they're a testament to the artists, producers, and writers – the people who rolled up their sleeves to shape the proposals and, in turn, the future of the GRAMMYs. It's exactly what they should be doing. It's their award."
A little more about the exact requirements, though, for those wondering if their favorite Young Thug DatPiff mixtape will qualify:
"Works must be released via general distribution, defined as the nationwide release of a recording via brick and mortar, third-party online retailers,and/or applicable digital streaming services. Applicable streaming services are 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. All recordings entered must have an assigned International Standard Recording Code (ISRC).
Recordings released nationwide via download or streaming service must have quality comparable to at least 16-bit 44.1 kHz. Submissions sent to The Academy for consideration must also include both the original file and the product, proper label credits (producer, mixer, songwriter, etc.) in the metadata file, and a verifiable online release date.
Recordings must be non-infringing, original works of authorship. To the extent a recording embodies in whole or in part the copyrighted work of a third party, appropriate authorization to use and incorporate such copyrighted work must have been obtained. If allegations are made that a recording is unauthorized and does not meet these criteria, The Academy will consider the allegations and determine, in its sole discretion, the eligibility of such recording."
And yeah, Chance is pumped:
There are also interesting tweaks to the Best New Artist category, which has confused fans in the past with its nominees including fairly established acts. Additionally, a single artist can now win Best Rap/Sung Performance, renamed from Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Drake, you're up.
Lastly, the 59th annual GRAMMY Awards have staked out a date: Feb. 12, 2017.