The Grammys add new categories, including songwriter of the year | shows

The Grammys add a special song for social change award and five new categories, including composer of the yeargiving the Recording Academy an avenue to honor music’s greatest composer.

The Academy announced Thursday that the new non-classical composer category will recognize an individual who has been the “most prolific” composer who has not performed or produced a new work during an eligibility year. The category takes a different approach from Song of the Year, which rewards the songwriter(s) who have written the lyrics or melodies for a song.

“This new category is really for someone who is skilled in the art of songwriting,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told The Associated Press. Songwriters must have written a minimum of five songs credited “solely” as songwriters or co-writers.

“Someone who writes their own music and records it would not be eligible,” he said. “They should be making songs for others. We want to highlight the craft of professional songwriting for artists.”

“Songwriters are the heart of our business and industry,” he said. “Nothing happens without songwriters. For us, this was a no-brainer. It’s in line with all the changes. We thought, ‘How can we do more? Show more people and be more inclusive of different genres?’

The new category is another big step for songwriters. Last year, an update to the rules allowed any songwriter, producer, engineer or artist featured on an album nominated for album of the year to earn a nomination.

The other four categories are: Best Spoken Poetry Album, Alternative Music Performance, Americana Music Performance, and Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media.

The academy has created a special merit award that determines the best song for social change. The award will be based on lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue and promotes “understanding, peacebuilding, and empathy.”

“It’s always time to recognize the music that is changing the world,” he said. “I think it deserves special recognition. These songs are important and impactful. We want to make sure we’re honoring and celebrating that art form. This is a great way to do it.”

Mason said it was a year-long process in which proposals to make changes, additions and updates were accepted from the creators and music professionals who make up the membership body.

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