The Grammys add a special song for the Social Change Award and five new categories including Songwriter of the Year, giving the Recording Academy a way to honor Top Music Composer.
The Academy announced Thursday that the New Non-Classical Songwriters category will award recognition to one individual who was the “most prolific” non-performing, non-producing songwriter of a range of new work during the year of eligibility. The category takes a different approach than Song of the Year, which awards a songwriter or songwriters who have written lyrics or melodies for a single song.
“This new category is really for someone who’s an expert in songwriting,” Harvey Mason Jr., chief executive of the Recording Academy, told The Associated Press. Songwriters must have written at least five songs for which they are “only” credited as a songwriter or co-writer.
“Someone who writes and records their own music will not be eligible,” he said. “They had to compose songs for others. We want to bring out the craft of professional songwriting for the artists.”
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“Songwriters are at the heart of our business and industry,” he said. “Nothing happens without songwriters. For us, this was a no-brainer. It goes along with all the changes. We thought, ‘How can we do more?'” Show more people and be more inclusive of different types? “
The new category is another big step for songwriters. Last year, a rule update allowed any featured songwriter, producer, engineer or artist on an album nominated for Album of the Year to finally earn a nomination.
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The other four categories include Best Spoken Word Poetry Album, Alternative Music Performance, Americana Music Performance, and Recording Video Game Soundtracks and Other Interactive Media.
The Academy has created a special Merit Award that identifies the best song for social change. The award will be based on lyrical content that addresses a social issue in a timely manner and promotes “understanding, peace building and empathy.”
“It’s always a good time to learn about the music that changes the world,” he said. “I think it deserves special recognition. These songs are important and touching. We want to make sure that we honor and celebrate this art form. This is a great way to do that.”
Mason said it’s a year-long process of accepting proposals for changes, additions, and updates from the music creators and professionals who make up the membership body.