16-year-old petitions Grammys to nominate free music

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chance the rapper

It may be just a matter of years before your favorite independent act has a shot at a Grammy. Recently, 16-year old Max Krasowitz started a Change.org petition for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) to consider free music for Grammy nomination. The petition has amassed 24,970 (of a desired 25,000) signatures at this point, including one from Chicago MC Chance The Rapper.

The latest petition update states that the NARAS has said they will “look at” their rules for eligibility based on the petition. Who knows what that means, but if it wasn’t for Krasowitz’ petition—started after a Twitter discussion with fellow Chano Fam, aka Chance the Rapper, fans—there would currently be no pressure for the NARAS to align their regulations with the times.

The present rules state that all projects must be “commercially released in general distribution in the United States” to be eligible. The petition would open the door for mixtapes, EPs and free albums to also be eligible for Grammy accolades.

It’s a necessary step, with the delineation between the mainstream and independent communities dwindling. Additionally, commercial artists are releasing free work that compares to—if not trumps—their studio albums. In hip hop alone, some of the most resonant projects released in recent years have been free mixtapes. It’s only right that the best music gets the chance to be awarded as such.

“The important thing is that artists who release their music for free and for the love of their art should be recognized at the most prestigious awards ceremony in music,” Krawositz said via e-mail. “It makes no sense that music must be sold commercially to be considered.”

Krasowitz, an aspiring artist who’s currently “playing around” with music, says that the reaction is “just crazy and unreal to me and really taught me that life lesson of fighting for stuff you believe in and that even the smallest action can create a wave.”

For all the ranting and raving about the Grammy nominations done by artists, journalists and others over the years, it’s pretty cool that a high schooler could be responsible for enacting actual change.