The Recording Academy has announced several new awards and rule changes for the Grammy Awards, including Songwriter of the Year (Non-Classical), along with Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media, and a Special Merit Award for Best Song for Social Change. Other amendments include changes to the Grammys entry and voting processes — including a rule that ups the minimum new content for album eligibility from 50% to 75%. All updates go into effect immediately for the 65th annual Grammy Awards, taking place in 2023.
The specifics of the rule changes are expected to be posted on grammy.com later in the day, but sources tell Variety that the Songwriter category is limited to non-performing and non-producing songwriters, i.e. those who are credited solely as a writer or co-writer.
Although the Songwriter of the Year award is long overdue, other changes reflect a new and faster responsiveness from the Academy to calls for change from the music community. The increase in percentage of new content for album eligibility is likely in response to a recent trend of albums squeezing out another year of eligibility with “bonus editions” that tacked on live or B-side-level material in order to push the release up to 50% new content.
“We’re so excited to honor these diverse communities of music creators through the newly established awards and amendments, and to continue cultivating an environment that inspires change, progress and collaboration,” said Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. “The Academy’s top priority is to effectively represent the music people that we serve, and each year, that entails listening to our members and ensuring our rules and guidelines reflect our ever-evolving industry.” Look for Variety’s interview with Mason about the changes, publishing later today.
Per the announcement, new categories include:
Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical
Recognizes the written excellence, profession and art of songwriting honoring the most prolific non-performing and non-producing songwriters for their body of new work released during an eligibility year.
Best Alternative Music Performance
A track and single category that recognizes the best recordings in an alternative performance by a solo artist, collaborating artists, established duo, or established group.
Best Americana Performance
A track and single Category that recognizes artistic excellence in an Americana performance by a solo artist, collaborating artists, established duo, or established group.
Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media
Recognizes excellence in score soundtrack albums comprised predominately of original scores and created specifically for, or as a companion to, a current video game or other interactive media released within the qualification period.
Best Spoken Word Poetry Album
An album Category that recognizes excellence in spoken word albums specific to the performance of poetry with or without music.
Special Merit Award Addition:
Best Song for Social Change
This Special Merit Award will be determined by a blue ribbon committee and ratified by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees. Submissions must contain lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue and promotes understanding, peacebuilding and empathy.
Grammy Award Voting Procedural Updates:
Charging Fees for Entry Submissions
All Recording Academy members will receive five courtesy entries every year. For additional entries, members will pay $40 (Early Bird Fee); $75 (Standard Fee); or $125 (Final Deadline Fee) per additional entry. Registered media companies will pay a fee of $65 (Early Bird Fee); $95 (Standard Fee); or $125 (Final Deadline Fee) for per entry. Considerations will be made for artists/members experiencing financial hardships. Any member who would be burdened by the entry fees can request the fees be waived by reaching out to the Recording Academy Awards Department.
To be eligible for Grammy Award consideration, an album must contain greater than 75% playing time of newly recorded (within five years of the release date), previously unreleased recordings*. The previous eligibility rule was 50%. (Note: Best Compilation Soundtrack, Best Historical Album, Best Immersive Audio Album, Best Recording Package, Best Special Package, and Best Album Notes accept albums of recordings that are not newly recorded.)
*Note: The updated album eligibility rule was approved in 2021 but is going into effect for the 65th annual Grammy Awards cycle.
Additional category amendments:
Classical Field: Creation of Craft Committees in Select Classical Categories
Three Categories within the Classical Field will now be determined by highly specialized Craft Committees: Producer of the Year (Classical), Best Engineered Album (Classical) and Best Contemporary Classical Composition.
Classical Field: Recognition of Composers and Librettists in Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Compendium Categories
Category definitions have been updated to award composers and librettists in addition to artists, producers and engineers.
New Age, Ambient or Chant Field: Renamed And Redefined Field and Category Name
The category formerly known as “Best New Age Album” has been renamed “Best New Age, Ambient Or Chant Album” and the Field name has also been updated to reflect that change.
Musical Theater Field: Recognition of Composers and Lyricists in Best Musical Theater Album Category
Category definition has been updated to award composers and lyricists of more than 50% of the score of a new recording.
Music for Visual Media Field (Includes Film, TV, Video Games, And Other Visual Media): Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media
Some language in the criteria for this Category which had been removed has now been restored to recognize principal artists and in-studio producers.
Production Field: Updated Definition of Best Remixed Recording Category
The newly amended definition of the Best Remixed Recording Category helps to reflect the remix craft as it currently stands in the industry: the creation of a new, full-track, unique performance created by a remixer from a previously released recording.
Spoken Word Field: Updated Category Name and Definition
The category formally known as Spoken Word Album has been renamed Best Audio Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording. This category recognizes excellence in spoken word albums (not including Spoken Word Poetry).