The Recording Academy announced Thursday (June 9) several brand-new Grammy categories: Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical; Best Alternative Music Performance; Best Americana Music Performance; Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games And Other Interactive Media; Best Spoken Word Poetry Album; and the special merit award for Best Song for Social Change. All categories will go into effect in next year’s 2023 ceremony.
“We’re so excited to honor these diverse communities of music creators through the newly established awards and amendments, and to continue cultivating an environment that inspires change, progress and collaboration,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said in an official statement. “The Academy’s top priority is to effectively represent the music people that we serve, and each year, that entails listening to our members and ensuring our rules and guidelines reflect our ever-evolving industry.”
The Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical award will be the first time non-producing and non-performing songwriters who do a significant amount of work will receive a prestigious, honorary award for their major work and impact in the music industry. Without these writers, we would not have many of your favorite hits and bops — something songwriters have been reminding the Recording Academy about in recent years.
In 2022, a stipulation was removed from the Album of the Year category that required songwriters and collaborators to have contributed to at least 33 percent of an LP’s contents in order to be included in the nomination. The removal allowed for more songwriters to have a chance at being honored with those awards, especially on releases with multiple co-writers. The addition of a Songwriter of the Year award in the pop realm furthers this recognition.
“My background is as a songwriter and a creator, so it really made a lot of sense to me that we would honor somebody like the Songwriter of the Year similar to the way we do a producer, best engineered album, things like that,” Mason Jr. said to Rolling Stone. “What’s important is the songwriting community felt like it wanted to be heard, and the Academy agreed wholeheartedly and is excited about this award.”
According to the Grammys website, the Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical award honors “the most prolific non-performing and non-producing songwriters,” in an effort to spotlight those whose work often happens behind the scenes. Best Alternative Music Performance and Best Americana Performance were created to give shine to tracks and singles in those respective genres. Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media celebrates the original scores in gaming, and Best Spoken Word Poetry Album highlights artists and their work either on its own or set to music.
Notably, the Recording Academy has also introduced a “special merit award” for Best Song for Social Change. The award “will be determined by a Blue Ribbon Committee and ratified by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees. Submissions must contain lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue and promotes understanding, peacebuilding and empathy.”
Find more about all the new changes right here.