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Samples To Be Allowed In All Grammy Award Songwriting Categories, Including Song of the Year


As part of its recent annual spring Board of Trustees meeting, The Recording Academy®’s Trustees approved a number of changes to the GRAMMY Awards® process, including: allowing samples or interpolations of previously written songs in all songwriting categories, including Song Of The Year; establishing a new category for Best American Roots Performance in the American Roots Music Field; changing the name of the Dance / Electronica Field and album category to Dance / Electronic Music Field and Best Dance / Electronic Album; restructuring the categories of the Gospel / Contemporary Christian Music Field; renaming Best Pop Instrumental Album as Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, establishing a new Contemporary Instrumental Music Field, and moving Best Traditional Pop Album into the Pop Field; changing Best Classical Vocal Solo (album or tracks) to Best Classical Solo Vocal Album (albums only); and renaming and remaking the Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals categories as Best Arrangement, Instrumental Or A Cappella and Best Arrangement, Instruments And Vocals, respectively, such that vocal arrangers / arrangements are eligible to compete. In addition, a more official guideline has been established for the Alternative Music Field. The total number of GRAMMY® categories that will be recognized at the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 8, 2015, is 83. For updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy’s social networks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

“The Academy’s Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its passionate commitment to keeping The Recording Academy a relevant and responsive organization in our dynamic music community,” said Neil Portnow, President / CEO of The Recording Academy. “This year’s changes to our Awards process are thoughtful, inclusive, and reflective of the current musical landscape, and we look forward to implementing them for the upcoming 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards.”


To ensure the GRAMMY Awards process remains fluid and responsive, The Academy’s Trustees have approved the following changes recommended by the Awards & Nominations (A&N) Committee:

*Samples or interpolations of previously written songs are now allowed in all songwriting categories: Song Of The Year, Best Rock Song, Best R&B Song, Best Country Song, Best Gospel Song, Best Contemporary Christian Music Song, Best American Roots Song, and Best Song Written For Visual Media. Previously, samples or interpolations were allowed in only one songwriting category: Best Rap Song, in recognition of the unique craft of writing rap songs.

*Best American Roots Performance has been added to the American Roots Music Field. An artist’s award, it will encompass all of the subgenres of the Field (Americana, Bluegrass, Blues, Folk, Regional Roots Music), and recognizes singles/tracks only as well as solo artists/duos/groups/collaborations. This puts the Field in line with the Pop, Rock, Rap, R&B, Country, and Gospel / Contemporary Christian Music Fields, all of which have performance categories.

*The name of the Dance / Electronica Field and Best Dance / Electronica Album category now change to Dance / Electronic Field and Best Dance / Electronic Album. The committees for this Field agreed that the title for this genre has evolved, and updating it more accurately represents the industry nomenclature of today.

*The categories of the Gospel / Contemporary Christian Music Field have been restructured as follows:

Previous Category Structure

  • Best Gospel / Contemporary Christian Music Performance
  • Best Gospel Song
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Song
  • Best Gospel Album
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
  • New Category Structure
  • Best Gospel Performance / Song
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song
  • Best Gospel Album
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
  • Best Roots Gospel Album
  • The same number of categories remains in the Field (five), and now both the artist(s) and songwriter(s) of new material will be honored in the Best Gospel Performance / Song and Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song categories. Changes to the Field were made in the interest of clarifying the criteria, representing the current culture and creative DNA of the gospel and Contemporary Christian Music communities, and better reflecting the diversity and authenticity of today’s gospel music industry, including:

  • Place the growing and increasingly popular Rap and Hip-Hop music into the contemporary category where the industry and fans feel it belongs
  • Provide a category for traditional Southern gospel and other “roots” gospel albums as both a protector of the heritage of this music and an acknowledgement of the growing interest and support of these genres
  • Recognize the critical contribution of both songwriters and performers by combining songwriters and artists into the Best Gospel Performance/Song and Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance / Song categories
  • Appropriately integrate artists, songwriters, albums and songs along creative and aesthetic lines.

    *Best Pop Instrumental Album has been renamed Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, a new Contemporary Instrumental Music Field has been established, and Best Traditional Pop Album now moves into the Pop Field. This new Field and category name will allow a broader umbrella for instrumental music than the former Best Pop Instrumental Album category and creates a more appropriate home and award for excellence in instrumental performance. In reviewing recent submissions, nominations and wins in this category, most projects are better categorized as “contemporary” music than “pop” music. Categorizing this award in a separate Field puts the emphasis on instrumental music, which provides for better representation of this particular craft, and allows for a more broadly defined category that can encompass all contemporary instrumental music without deference to a particular genre.

    Changing the name of the Best Pop Instrumental Album category to Best Contemporary Instrumental Album and moving it out of the Pop Field into its own Field results in only three awards in Pop. Adding the Best Traditional Pop Album category to the Pop Field (and removing the standalone Traditional Pop Field) helps to maintain parity among the mainstream Fields.

    *Best Classical Vocal Solo (album or tracks) now becomes Best Classical Solo Vocal Album (albums only). The Best Classical Vocal Solo category began in 1958 as an album category. When it was changed to accept tracks, the category also became a vocal solo category, removing collaborative recognition for essential musicians performing classical music. Orchestras, conductors, pianists, and chamber groups are equal and essential partners in the performance of classical vocal music. The history of this category has shown that with only a few, rare exceptions, the nominees in this category have been predominantly albums. In cases where albums contain mixed musical forms, these albums will now be eligible in the Best Classical Compendium category.

    *Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals have been renamed Best Arrangement, Instrumental Or A Cappella and Best Arrangement, Instruments And Vocals, respectively, so that vocal arrangers / arrangements may now compete as well. Singles or tracks only are eligible in both categories. (Exception: If an album is one complete work [composition] it is eligible.)

    *A more formal, official guideline for the Alternative Music Field has been established. The new guideline states that the Best Alternative Music Album category is intended for recordings that take as a starting point any existing musical genre or combination of genres, and expand and redefine the boundaries of those genres. Though there may be considerable overlap with the Alternative radio format, this category is not intended to mirror it.

    Previously, this category was intended for recordings of a nontraditional form that exist (at least initially) outside of the mainstream music consciousness. Its avant-garde approach may utilize new technology or new production techniques and contain elements of Rock, Pop, Dance, Folk or even Classical music styles.

    Though the difference between the two may not appear to be particularly dramatic or significant, the new definition is more inclusive and foregoes references to any other particular genre, as well as clarifies the category’s relationship to the radio format.

    The Trustees of The Recording Academy, along with Academy senior staff, Chapter Regional Directors, Executive Directors, and Chapter Presidents, met May 20 – 23 at the semiannual series of meetings with agendas designed to strategically chart the course of The Academy and its affiliate corporations.

    Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit this link. For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @TheGRAMMYs on Twitter, like “The GRAMMYs” on Facebook, and join The GRAMMYs’ social communities on Foursquare, GetGlue, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube.

    For more about The GRAMMYs, visit their website.

    Written by Manny King John

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