The Recording Academy announced a number of rules changes for future Grammy Awards on Thursday, including allowing samples to be used in songs included in songwriting categories like Song of the Year.
"This year's changes to our Awards process are thoughtful, inclusive, and reflective of the current musical landscape," said Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow in a statement.
The addition of sampling is a sign of the changing face of music, with samples included in a variety of genres — the Grammys had previously only allowed samples in the best rap song category. The Academy's Bill Freimuth tells KPCC that he thinks it will have an impact on some of the major Grammys categories.
"What I think the change is going to do, is eliminate a lot of the head-scratching as to why some very big, popular recordings, songs, were not showing up in the nominations," Freimuth said. "For something like Song of the Year or Best R&B, or Best Rock Song … our ballot will feel a little bit more complete because all of these will now be included."
Freimuth said that classical musicians and composers have been sampling music for centuries — and as music evolves in the 21st century, it only makes sense to open up the playing field.
"You know somebody like Bach would not have been able to write most of what he wrote without sampling Vivaldi, and Bartok would not have been able to write most of what he did without sampling Hungarian folk music," Freimuth said. "They came to realize that using samples was just part of the craft, it wasn't really cheating in any way, and it wasn't a lesser form of songwriting."
Other changes include restructuring the Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music categories, adding a new Best American Roots Performance award, introducing a new Contemporary Instrumental Music category and renaming several other categories. The new American Roots award brings it in line with the other major music categories, according to the Academy.
"We have net gain of one one category for this year," Freimuth said. "So it does give a little bit more opportunity for musicians. Most of the other changes … really do not affect people's chances to win a Grammy, except now of course vocal arrangers will be eligible in those categories. "
They've also provided a more formal definition of alternative music, defining the Best Alternative Music Album category as being "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." It was previously defined as being for "recordings of a nontraditional form that exist (at least initially) outside of the mainstream music consciousness." The Academy drew a distinction between this and the alternative radio format, though said there may be some crossover.
The changes will be implemented at the next Grammys on Feb. 8, 2015.
Read more about the Grammys process in the Grammys infographic below:
This story has been updated.