Music Fans Pressure Grammys to Change Eligibility Rules

In order to be eligible to win a Grammy Award, musicians have to have sold their music. One 16-year-old is petitioning for a change to the policy.

By Adam Taylor

On Sunday, May 8th, 16-year-old Max Krasowitz put up a petition requesting for the National Academy of Recording Arts (NARA) to modify the rules of the Grammys. The issue has grabbed attention as many musicians today are looking to release free music, including Kid Cudi, Future, and Chance the Rapper.

According to the NARA, in order for music to receive a Grammy, it 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. 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).” The policy appears to exist as a filter to decide what is credible music; if people around the country were buying the music, then it was worth considering. But the economic model for music has changed since then, and paid music is not the only way for an artist to prove themselves Grammy-worthy.  Since the Grammys’ purpose is to recognize good music, Krasowitz’s petition seeks to recognize that releasing free music for the sake of the music itself shouldn’t make the artist ineligible for a prestigious award.

Established musicians are helping bring attention to the cause. Chance the Rapper is set to release his third mixtape, Chance 3—free like his previous albums—on May 13th (this Thursday). On Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, Chance’s verse goes like this:

He said let’s do a good job with Chance three
I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy
Let’s make it so free and the bars so hard
That there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet.

After four days, the petition has already gathered more than 20,000 supporters. Chance the Rapper tweeted a link to it and even commented on the petition’s site saying, “I’m signing because everybody deserves a chance.”

Feature image, “Kid CUdi Live in Seattle” from Dejan Pralica on Flickr