In May, a petition started circulating the internet, demanding that free projects i.e. mixtapes be made eligible for Grammy consideration by the Recording Academy. Following the petition going viral, a spokesperson for the Academy conceded that a free music category isn't too far off base-- "The Grammy Awards process is fluid and, like music, continues to evolve," the spokesperson said.

Today, they've evolved. The Recording Academy announced this morning that the Grammys will now take into consideration music that is available by stream only. This will take effect for the 2017 Grammys, for which the eligibility period is Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016.

In a press release announcing the move today, The Academy stated that stream only efforts will be eligible if, "released via general distribution, defined as the nationwide release of a recording via brick and mortar, third-party online retailers, and/or applicable digital streaming services. Applicable streaming services are paid subscription, full catalog, on-demand streaming/limited download platforms that have existed as such within the United States for at least one full year as of the submission deadline."

One of the primary reasons that Max Krasowitz created the petition was to get artists like Chance The Rapper the recognition they deserve: "Artists like Chance the Rapper who are now getting national recognition and performing on national platforms are being punished for making their music available to everyone, rich or poor, by releasing their music for free," Krasowitz wrote on the petition page. This new amendment to The Grammys now means that Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book is fair game.

The Senior Vice President of Awards for the Recording Academy, Bill Freimuth, spoke on this change, saying, "The Grammys aren't just peer-awarded, they're peer-driven. Throughout the year, members of the music community come to us asking to make changes to the Awards process, and we work with them to figure out how those changes might work. I'm proud of this year's changes because they're a testament to the artists, producers, writers – the people who rolled up their sleeves to shape the proposals and, in turn, the future of the Grammys. It's exactly what they should be doing. It's their award."

While this is exciting in and of itself, it's not the only amendment happening to the Grammys this year. Here's a brief rundown of the other changes:

  • For the Best New Artist category, artists are no longer ineligible if they released a project prior to their Grammy consideration-- they "must have released a minimum of five singles/tracks or one album, but no more than 30 singles/tracks or three albums." 
  • Academy members are no longer allowed to vote on 20 categories-- the number has decreased to 15.
  • Best Rap/Sung Performance is now titled as Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and is "intended to recognize solo and collaborative performances containing elements of R&B and rap in melody and song. In the case of a collaboration of artists who don’t usually perform together, one of the collaborating artists should be credited and recognized as a featured artist."