A new petition has been introduced to make free music eligible for Grammy consideration
Free music has revolutionized the music industry. Just ask Diplo — it’s what kept Mad Decent afloat early on, and look at them now. It has helped propel some of the biggest producers of the moment into their spotlights, from Baauer to Chance the Rapper. And whereas some may not agree with the model, the bedroom producer down the hall in your dorm knows exactly how powerful free music can be. But with some of the most important artists out there currently opting to give their music to fans free of charge, this new paradigm poses an issue in relation to older music institutions, such as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. How can artists giving their music away for free be eligible for a Grammy without technically selling any records?
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences defines the criteria for music being Grammy-eligible as, “commercially released in general distribution in the United States, i.e. sales by label to a branch or recognized independent distributor, via the Internet, or mail order/retail sales for a nationally marketed product. Recordings must be available for sale from any date within the eligibility period through at least the date of the current year’s voting deadline (final ballot).” By definition, free music cannot win Grammys.
The Billboard charts didn’t incorporate streaming until 2014, and the RIAA didn’t count streams towards gold and platinum certifications until this year. Now a Change.org petition is calling for NARAS to reform its model as well and acknowledge free music to be as award-worthy as commercially released material.
Read the full petition here.