The Recording Academy has made a bold stride in preserving the human spirit in music in an industry becoming increasingly dependent on artificial intelligence (AI). In a series of recently announced changes to the Grammy Awards – the music industry’s highest honor – the Academy has stated unequivocally that only “human creators” are eligible to win. This move comes as no surprise to those who value the intrinsic artistry of music and its innately human roots.
“The human authorship component of the work submitted must be meaningful,” the new requirements read in part. It’s a clear line in the sand, drawn to delineate between technology as a tool and technology as a creator. In a rapidly evolving tech landscape, this move by the Recording Academy underscores the value of human ingenuity and the irreplaceable quality of the human touch in art.
The Grammys Awards have introduced changes to its programming, including a new decision regarding artificial intelligence that says "only human creators are eligible" can win awards. https://t.co/AX4Iih192B
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 16, 2023
This rule seems timely in a year that saw Paul McCartney announce a forthcoming “last Beatles record” composed using artificial intelligence by extracting John Lennon’s voice from an old demo. McCartney described AI as “kind of scary but exciting.” Yet, as we navigate this brave new world, the Recording Academy says it is essential to maintain a space for human creativity.
But the Academy’s revisions weren’t limited to AI-related matters. Additional changes have been enacted to ensure that those most deserving of recognition are correctly credited. To win a nomination for the album of the year category, a music creator must account for at least 20% of the work. This includes all credited artists, featured artists, songwriters, producers, engineers, mixers, and mastering engineers. This change from the 2021 rule, which permitted anyone who worked on an album to receive a nomination, is a testament to the Recording Academy’s commitment to recognizing substantial contributions.
In a move to balance competition, the number of nominees in the “Big Four” categories – best new artists, album, song, and record of the year – has decreased from ten to eight. And in reflecting the evolution of the music documentary format, the requirement that 50% of the documentary footage must be performance-based to be nominated for the “best music film” category has been lifted. This shift acknowledges the importance of verité and archival footage in telling artists’ stories, signaling an appreciation for the art of storytelling beyond performance alone.
These modifications extend to category naming as well. For example, the best improvised jazz solo award is now the best jazz performance and the best regional Mexican music album (including Tejano) has been renamed the best música Mexicana album (including Tejano). These changes appear to offer a more accurate reflection of the categories they represent.
The Recording Academy’s new rules reflect a proactive adaptation to technological advancements and underscore a commitment to valuing and recognizing significant human input in music. As we push the boundaries of AI’s capabilities, it is heartening to see institutions like the Recording Academy reminding us that the soul of music remains human.