Last month, we reported that hip-hop fans had circulated an online petition asking the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to consider mixtapes and other free releases for The Grammys. And today we find out maybe someone at Grammys HQ has "No Problem" on repeat, too.
As it stood, Grammy eligibility stated that the music must be "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." By that rule, artists like Chance The Rapper and his latest, Coloring Book, a frontrunner for AOTY, are ineligible because he isn't signed to a label and because he doesn't sell his music. Hence, "I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy."
According to a report from Billboard, however, the Recording Academy announced Thursday that, in response to an undeniable shift in the platforms of music consumption, The Grammys will now recognize streaming-only releases. This is huge, especially for hip-hop. Whether the right albums actually get noticed is another question.
There are, of course, a few caveats. The new guidelines tweak the old notion of "general distribution," expanding to include the major subscription-based streamers: Tidal, Apple Music, Google Play, and Spotify, which today represent major revenue streams. Newer on-demand platforms like SoundCloud Go and Pandora's forthcoming streamer will be eligible after a year of service. YouTube-only releases are ineligible. Same goes for music available exclusively at DatPiff and Livemixtapes.
So, it turns out you still sorta gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy. But at least we've got an answer: no, you're not the only dude who still cares about mixtapes.
The Recording Academy has a historically fraught relationship with hip-hop, but this is a real hint that The Grammys, along with other key gatekeepers of industry success, are finally taking the little genre seriously. Among other tweaks, the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration has been amended to Best Rap/Sung Performance, because it's been hilarious for a while to make some arbitrary distinction between artists who sing and artists who rap and to think the only way the twain shall meet is by the collaboration of two different bodies.
Call it The Drake Rule.