Free music seems to be commonplace in the music industry today, as downloads on SoundCloud, Facebook and more are regular sights. Producers like Diplo, Chance the Rapper and Baauer have all released free tracks to propel their career forward. “Free” is a buzz word that really does work; it catches people’s eyes as a gift they can enjoy with no strings attached. One of the biggest questions that has arisen with these free giveaways from artists to fans is how these tracks can be eligible for a Grammy nomination when they don’t actually sell.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, an older institution in the music industry that is not fully up-to-date with the “free music” wave, defines music that is 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).” In simpler terms: free music cannot win a Grammy.
A Change.org petition by Max Krasowitz is asking NARAS to change this model by allowing free tracks to be considered with commercial ones. Max’s argument points out how talented artists release free mixtapes and projects, but are not given recognition because the music is not commercially released. The petition goes into more detail, as it reads:
This means that artists like Chance the Rapper, who are now getting national recognition and performing on national platforms (just this past week Chance performed on the Jimmy Fallon show) are being punished for making their music available to everyone, rich or poor, by releasing their music for free. It’s obvious that these artists are making their music more accessible to people who deserve it even if they can’t afford it, as well as decreasing pirating and illegally downloading music. Not all artists should be forced to release their music for free, but the ones who do should not be punished for doing so.
You can check out the full petition here.
H/T: Dancing Astronaut