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Awards

What the Grammys’ New Rule Tweaks Mean for the Dance/Electronic Community

Four of the 10 rule changes announced last week by the Recording Academy are making small but significant differences for the genre.

Kylie Minogue, winner of the best pop dance recording award for “Padam Padam,” poses in the press room during the 66th annual Grammy Awards at Crypto.com Arena on Feb. 4 in Los Angeles.

Kylie Minogue, winner of the best pop dance recording award for “Padam Padam,” poses in the press room during the 66th annual Grammy Awards at Crypto.com Arena on Feb. 4 in Los Angeles.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Last week, the Recording Academy unveiled a flurry of rule tweaks that will be implemented at the 2025 awards. Among these 10 changes, three are directly related to the dance/electronic categories, and a fourth also affects those categories.

One of the changes involves an award that was introduced to the Grammys just this year, with the best pop dance recording category now being called best dance pop recording. This tweak is not just a matter of aesthetics, but meant to make the category more accurately reflect the well-established style of dance pop music it was created to showcase.


The proposal for this name change, reviewed by Billboard, stated that “last year we conceded with Recording Academy staff to amend the award name to ‘Pop Dance’ rather than ‘Dance Pop’ for the purposes of classifying and defining: ‘what kind of Dance.’ However, the result of this decision has been one of regular confusion and clarification. Numerous articles in mainstream media would either ‘correct’ or get ‘confused’ or ‘incorrectly label’ the Grammy Award.

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“The confusion,” the proposal continues, “has also led some people to question if this is a Pop category award, or a Dance category award. It is of extreme importance to the Dance/Electronic community, and the driving intention of the invention of the award, that it be recognized in the Dance category, albeit for the most Pop-leaning sounds of Dance music.”

With this new category functioning as intended during its debut this year, this change is likely to only help the category establish itself as a home for electronic music with a pop lean, allowing space in the best dance/electronic recording category for more traditional electronic tracks and generally creating more space for dance/electronic music at the Grammys.

The next rule change involves the best remixed recording category, which has long focused on dance/electronic artists but was never an official dance/electronic category.

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That changes in 2025, with this category being moved from the production, engineering, composition and arrangement field into the pop and dance/electronic field — a shift that makes sense, given how deeply remixing is embedded in and largely synonymous with the dance/electronic realm.

To wit, the 2024 nominees in this category included tech house titan Dom Dolla and longstanding producer Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, with winners since the award was introduced in 1998 having included genre legends like Frankie Knuckles, Deep Dish, Roger Sanchez, Louie Vega, Justice, David Guetta, Skrillex and Tiësto.

The next tweak changes the name of the best dance/electronic music album award to best dance/electronic album. The title change was made given that the word “music” was more or less considered unnecessary.

More crucially, this change also amends the definition of the category, which now states that “albums must be made up of at least 50% dance/electronic recordings to qualify.” This change is quite likely a result of the nomination of and subsequent win for Beyoncè’s Renaissance in 2023. Given that the album is not composed entirely of dance/electronic music, Renaissance’s inclusion in the dance/electronic album category sparked major debate within the electronic music community.

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Many felt it wasn’t a purely dance/electronic album, while others embraced it not only for its music but for how it shined a light on the Black and LGBTQ origins of the genre music itself. Given this definition change, however, it’s possible a similar album may be included in the dance/electronic album category going forward.

And while the final change is one that affects many categories, it’s especially significant for dance music. The tweak states that all eligibly credited featured artists withunder50% playtime will now be awarded a winners’ certificate for all genre album categories. These certificates previously went only to producers and engineers with less than 50% playing time, mastering engineers (if they weren’t also the artist) and immersive producers and immersive engineer/mixers.

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“Most often,” the proposal for this change stated, “a Featured Artist would be a Vocalist that performed on one or multiple songs on the record, but didn’t achieve 50% playtime as a whole (otherwise they would be a Grammy winner).”

While featured artists could still previously get a certificate, this certificate was not awarded automatically, and many featured artists were unaware that they were eligible to apply for a certificate, which also previously cost $150. This was different from the process for contributors like engineers and producers, who received certificates automatically for free.

The Rules and Guidelines booklet for the upcoming 67th annual Grammy Awards sheds some light on certificates: “Individuals on a Grammy-winning recording whose roles are listed under Certificate receive a Winners Certificate from the Academy after the telecast but are not Grammy nominees or Grammy winners. These individuals can say they ‘worked on a Grammy-winning project’ but are not ‘Grammy winners.’

“Additionally, those who worked in certain roles on Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated projects but are not nominees, winners or recipients of Winners Certificates can order a Participation Certificate. These can be ordered for a fee from the Academy website.”

The proposal, introduced by members of the electronic music community, argued that in dance, this difference “disproportionately affects female creators or people of color,” stating that “vocalists in the Dance/Electronic community are predominantly people of color and female.” The last four winning albums in the dance/electronic category (Fred again..’s Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022), Beyoncè’s Renaissance, Black Coffee’s Subconsciously and Kaytranada’s Bubba) included 27 featured artists, 14 of whom are women and 21 of whom are people of color.

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Given that the dance/electronic categories have had a dicey history in terms of representing women and people of color, this change opens up the category to recognize a more diverse group of artists. The change was co-proposed by Aluna, who last year expressed frustration about the number of white men nominated in the categories.

“You can say awards are bullshit but they ARE career builders,” the producer-writer-singer and label founder wrote upon the announcement of the new rule tweaks. “Today I got word that a change I fought for was implemented at the Grammys and I want to explain why it’s MASSIVE! As a Black woman in Dance music you get the message loud and clear; your value is as the Featured Artist not the main act. Labels, managers, leading (white male) artists in the field, festival bookers and media all tell us that our voices are incredibly valuable but investing in us as artists is rarely on the table.

“Now, while I can’t change this culture overnight with my label Noir Fever,” the statement continues, “I saw that while being featured artists is our bread and butter, it’s someone else’s Grammy award so there’s a simple shift that could be made; Featured artists need the credit they deserve when contributing to Albums. In the past if you poured your heart into a song on another artists’ Album that won you still went home with nothing. Now I’m proud to share that every featured artist who has sung on a Grammy winning album will get a certificate.”

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This article was originally published by Billboard U.S.

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Nelly Furtado
Valentin Herfray

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