meta-scriptWhy The New Songwriter Of The Year GRAMMY Category Matters For The Music Industry And Creator Community | GRAMMY.com
SongwriterOfTheYear

interview

Why The New Songwriter Of The Year GRAMMY Category Matters For The Music Industry And Creator Community

The newly announced GRAMMY Award category for Songwriter Of The Year marks a watershed moment for songwriters in all genres. Here’s why this new GRAMMY category matters for the 2023 GRAMMYs and how to qualify for Songwriter Of The Year.

GRAMMYs/Jun 9, 2022 - 07:56 pm

Updated on Thursday, July 14: The air date for the 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, has been announced. The 2023 GRAMMYs will air live Sunday, Feb. 5, from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on demand on Paramount+. Nominations for the 2023 GRAMMYs will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

The 2021 GRAMMYs and 2022 GRAMMYs looked vastly different from past years due to the realities of a pandemic. But the 2023 GRAMMYs will be unique for purely positive reasons.

Today, the Recording Academy announced a brand-new GRAMMY Award category: Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical. (This was among many other new category additions, including Best Alternative Music Performance, Best Americana Performance and Best Score Soundtrack For Video Games And Other Interactive Media, as well as other process amendments and updates to the GRAMMY Awards process.)

The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.

"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. expressed in a 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."

Watch Now: Introducing The Songwriters & Composers Wing

Mason's comments speak to the greater winds of change surrounding these developments. But what of the GRAMMY for Songwriter Of The Year specifically?

To help music lovers and the wider music community understand the significance of this momentous development, GRAMMY.com spoke to leaders at the Songwriters & Composers Wing, who worked with Recording Academy executives to develop and launch the Songwriter Of The Year GRAMMY category.

In this informative interview with S&C Wing Managing Director Susan Stewart and Chair Evan Bogart, learn more about the thinking behind the creation of the GRAMMY for Songwriter Of The Year — and how to qualify for this magnificent honor.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

What was the impetus for the institution of the GRAMMY for Songwriter Of The Year? Why was now the perfect time to launch this new category?

Susan Stewart, Managing Director, Songwriters & Composers Wing: With the launch of the Songwriters & Composers Wing, we wanted to show our dedication to true craft writers. It was the perfect time with the launch of the Wing to initiate this. It has a longer history, but it really did help having the Wing to stand behind it.

Evan Bogart, Chair of the Songwriters & Composers Wing: As somebody who's a songwriter first — I joined the [Recording Academy’s] Los Angeles Chapter Board in 2010 or 2011 — there weren't many songwriters, if any, on the Board at that point. There wasn't a lot of representation for songwriters in that regard. I wanted to find a way for songwriters to have a seat at the table and be honored for their contributions to music — and not only their contributions to creating songs, but to the entire musical landscape.

Over the course of the last decade-plus, the role of the songwriter has increased so much in the process of A&R, production, recording, mentorship, and artist development. It became so apparent that we needed a Wing to represent the more than 3,500 songwriters within the Recording Academy membership and the interests specific to songwriting, education, mentorship, advocacy, awards, and recognition.

Via that, we were able to make this dream of having an award that honors the compendium of an artist's yearly output and the impact it has each year on the musical landscape in the way the GRAMMYs have been honoring producers since 1975. I think the time to do that is now, and we have the support from the Wing, Academy and community.

People in the songwriting world have been calling for this award for more than a decade — the last decade that I've been listening. Maybe more than that! We just came to the right moment in time to put the weight of the new Wing behind it and create it.

By which metrics will Academy voting members judge the merits of various songwriters for the award on an annual basis?

Bogart: We're looking for which songwriters have demonstrated, first and foremost, that they're considered a songwriter first by the music community. We want to recognize the professional, hardworking songwriters who do this for a living — who wake up every day and think about how they're going to write songs for other people, and craft songs not only for themselves, but for other artists as well.

This isn't intended to just award an artist or producer with another award. This is focused on honoring the professional songwriters who hit the studio every day and try to craft the next song for somebody.

But that doesn't mean that artists and producers can't win this award. It just means that we're going to have certain thresholds within the award that need to be met in order to prove within your discography that you set out to be a professional songwriter as well.

Stewart: People may have questions about how they enter. What they have to do to enter in the OEP [Online Entry Process] is to have a minimum of five songs in which they're listed as a non-performing, non-producing songwriter or co-writer.

Bogart: On top of that, you can submit up to nine songs each year on behalf of yourself to show what you accomplished that year. You can put forth eight songs; you can put forth seven; you can put as many songs as you want — up to nine — in there. But five songs must demonstrate that you were not an artist nor a producer when you wrote them. For five songs, you have to be a non-performing, non-producing songwriter.

On top of that, you can put up to four more songs [on which] you were a producer and artist as well. Again, that is to make sure we are honoring people that the songwriting community views as songwriters first and foremost. You can be an artist, as long as you're [respectively] a songwriter and artist, not an artist and songwriter.

Stewart: We want people to understand that there are people behind these songs, who create a piece of art from nothing. We want to make sure they're recognized. It's an amazing profession.

The GRAMMY remains the highest honor in music — bar none. Through that lens, why does the GRAMMY for Songwriter Of The Year matter to the music industry and larger music community?

Bogart: The Songwriter Of The Year GRAMMY would be the greatest honor a songwriter could achieve in any year. To be honored by your peers for not just one song that you wrote, or an album that you worked on, but for the meaningful contribution and breadth of diversity of your songwriting across all genres in one given year would be the highest achievement that any songwriter could achieve — period.

Stewart: We're honoring their comprehensive body of songs released during the eligibility year. It just sheds such a light on the talent of those individual writers. It's a lot to be proud of for these esteemed creators.

New Categories For The 2023 GRAMMYs Announced: Songwriter Of The Year, Best Video Game Soundtrack, Best Song For Social Change & More Changes

Beyonce 2023 GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Beyoncé at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Beyoncé's Heartfelt Speech For Her Record-Breaking Win In 2023

Relive the night Beyoncé received a gramophone for Best Dance/Electronic Album for 'RENAISSANCE' at the 2023 GRAMMYS — the award that made her the most decorated musician in GRAMMY history.

GRAMMYs/Feb 2, 2024 - 05:12 pm

Six years after her last solo studio album, Beyoncé returned to the music industry with a bang thanks to RENAISSANCE. In homage to her late Uncle Johnny, she created a work of art inspired by the sounds of disco and house that wasn't just culturally impactful — it was history-making.

At the 2023 GRAMMYs, RENAISSANCE won Best Dance/Electronic Album. Marking Beyoncé's 32nd golden gramophone, the win gave the superstar the record for most gramophones won by an individual act.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the historic moment Queen Bey took the stage to accept her record-breaking GRAMMY at the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

"Thank you so much. I'm trying not to be too emotional," Beyoncé said at the start of her acceptance speech. "I'm just trying to receive this night."

With a deep breath, she began to list her praises that included God, her family, and the Recording Academy for their continued support throughout her career. 

"I'd like to thank my Uncle Johnny, who is not here, but he's here in spirit," Beyoncé proclaimed. "I'd like to thank the queer community for your love and inventing this genre."

Watch the video above for Beyoncé's full speech for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind. 

Tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

A Timeline Of Beyoncé's GRAMMY Moments, From Her First Win With Destiny's Child to Making History With 'Renaissance'

Lizzo GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Lizzo at the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Lizzo Thanks Prince For His Influence After "About Damn Time" Wins Record Of The Year In 2023

Watch Lizzo describe how Prince’s empowering sound led her to “dedicate my life to positive music” during her Record Of The Year acceptance speech for “About Damn Time” at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Jan 19, 2024 - 06:00 pm

Since the start of her career, four-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo has been making music that radiates positive energy. Her Record Of The Year win for "About Damn Time" at the 2023 GRAMMYs proved that being true to yourself and kind to one another always wins.

Travel back to revisit the moment Lizzo won her award in the coveted category in this episode of GRAMMY Rewind. 

"Um, huh?" Lizzo exclaimed at the start of her acceptance speech. "Let me tell you something. Me and Adele are having a good time, just enjoying ourselves and rooting for our friends. So, this is an amazing night. This is so unexpected."

Lizzo kicked off her GRAMMY acceptance speech by acknowledging Prince's influence on her sound. "When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music," she said. "This was at a time when positive music and feel-good music wasn't mainstream at that point and I felt very misunderstood. I felt on the outside looking in. But I stayed true to myself because I wanted to make the world a better place so I had to be that change."

As tracks like "Good as Hell" and "Truth Hurts" scaled the charts, she noticed more body positivity and self-love anthems from other artists. "I'm just so proud to be a part of it," she cheered.

Most importantly, Lizzo credited staying true to herself despite the pushback for her win. "I promise that you will attract people in your life who believe in you and support you," she said in front of a tearful audience that included Beyoncé and Taylor Swift in standing ovation, before giving a shout-out to her team, family, partner and producers on the record, Blake Slatkin and Ricky Reed

Watch the video above for Lizzo's complete acceptance speech for Record Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

10 Must-See Moments From The 2023 GRAMMYs

“A Celebration of Craft,” the first-ever event presented by the Recording Academy’s two craft wings, will kick off GRAMMY Week 2024 and salute producer/engineer and seven-time GRAMMY winner Leslie Ann Jones on Wednesday, Jan. 31.
“A Celebration of Craft,” an official GRAMMY Week 2024 event, takes place Wednesday, Jan. 31, in Los Angeles

Graphic courtesy of the Recording Academy

news

The Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing And Songwriters & Composers Wing To Host First-Ever "A Celebration Of Craft" Event During GRAMMY Week 2024, Honoring Leslie Ann Jones

“A Celebration of Craft,” the first-ever event presented by the Recording Academy’s two craft wings, will kick off GRAMMY Week 2024 and salute producer/engineer and seven-time GRAMMY winner Leslie Ann Jones and the creatives behind the music on Jan. 31.

GRAMMYs/Jan 9, 2024 - 01:59 pm

The Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing and Songwriters & Composers Wing are joining forces to host “A Celebration of Craft.” Taking place Wednesday, Jan. 31, at the GRAMMY Museum in Downtown Los Angeles, the inaugural event, the first-ever joint GRAMMY Week event for the Academy’s craft Wings, will honor seven-time GRAMMY winner Leslie Ann Jones for her prolific work as a recording and mixing engineer and record producer. The event will also salute the year-round work of the Producers & Engineers and Songwriters & Composers Wings and shine a light on the people working behind the scenes to create the year’s best musical works, including this year’s Songwriter Of The Year nominees. The premiere celebration kicks off the official start of GRAMMY Week 2024, the Recording Academy’s weeklong celebration comprising official GRAMMY Week events honoring the music community in the lead-up to the 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards.

“A Celebration of Craft” also debuts during a major development for the production and songwriting fields at the annual GRAMMY Awards. For the first time ever, the Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical and Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical categories will be awarded in the General Field of the GRAMMY Awards at the 2024 GRAMMYs next month. The Recording Academy announced these significant additions last June after they were voted on and passed by the Recording Academy’s Board of Trustees last May; relocating these categories allows all GRAMMY voters to participate in the voting process for these non-genre-specific categories and recognize excellence in the important fields of producing and songwriting.

“Songwriting and producing are some of the fundamental building blocks of our industry — in addition to, of course, performing and recording,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. told GRAMMY.com about the GRAMMY category changes." “We feel this change is an opportunity to allow our full voting membership to participate … We are excited that our entire voting body will be able to contribute to such important categories like Songwriter Of The Year and Producer Of The Year. Again, these are such important parts of our Awards process. But bigger than that, they're an important part of the music ecosystem. Since these categories are not genre-specific, and they are across many different genres, we felt it was responsible to put them in the General Field so everyone could vote for these important awards.”

A recording and mixing engineer and record producer for more than 40 years, Leslie Ann Jones has held staff positions at ABC Recording Studios in Los Angeles, the Automatt Recording Studios in San Francisco, and Capitol Studios in Hollywood. Now at Skywalker Sound, she continues her career recording and mixing music for records, films, video games, and television, and producing records primarily in the classical genre. Over the course of her career, she has worked with artists from Herbie Hancock, the Kronos Quartet, Holly Near, and Michael Feinstein to Santana, Bobby McFerrin, Charlie Haden, BeBe & CeCe Winans, ConFunkShun, and many more.

The first woman Chair of the Recording Academy’s Board of Trustees (1999-2001), Jones is the recipient of seven GRAMMY Awards, including four for Best Engineered Album, Classical and one for Best Immersive Audio Album. She serves on the Advisory Board of Institute for the Musical Arts, the Board of Directors of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.), and she is an Artistic Advisor to the Technology and Applied Composition degree program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Jones was also inducted into the NAMM TEC Hall of Fame in 2019 and is a Heyser lecturer. She was also the recipient of the 2022 G.A.N.G. Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Jones chaired the committee that wrote “Recommendations for Hi-Resolution Music Production,” published by the Producers & Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy, and is also a member of the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board.

“I’m so excited for our Producers & Engineers and Songwriters & Composers Wings to come together for ‘A Celebration of Craft’ later this month,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a statement. “Both Wings are a critical part of our mission at the Recording Academy to create spaces for music creators to thrive, and I look forward to joining with music people from both of these communities to kick off our GRAMMY Week celebrations.”

“From her decades-spanning recording career to her work as former Chair of the Recording Academy’s Board of Trustees, a co-chair of the P&E Wing, and much more, Leslie Ann Jones has always been committed to the music community and to excellence in recording,” said Maureen Droney, Vice President of the Producers & Engineers Wing, in a statement. “It’s a privilege to convene our national network of creatives and technicians to salute her at ‘A Celebration of Craft’ with the Songwriters & Composers Wing, an essential collaborator in our effort to recognize the people behind the music.”

“‘A Celebration of Craft’ will mark the first GRAMMY Week event for the Songwriters & Composers Wing since our Wing was founded in 2021, and we could not be more enthusiastic to come together with our community for an evening dedicated to celebrating their creativity,” said Susan Stewart, Managing Director of the Songwriters & Composers Wing. “We’re thrilled to co-host this event with our friends in the Producers & Engineers Wing and pay tribute to the diverse creative professions in our industry together.”

The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, will air live from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 4 (8 -11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) on the CBS Television Network and will stream on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

How To Watch The 2024 GRAMMYs Live: GRAMMY Nominations Announcement, Air Date, Red Carpet, Streaming Channel & More

Harry Styles AOTY GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Harry Styles at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Mazur

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Harry Styles Celebrates His Fellow Nominees (And His Biggest Fan) After Album Of The Year Win In 2023

Revisit the moment Harry Styles accepted the most coveted award of the evening for 'Harry's House' and offered a heartfelt nod to his competitors — Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo, Coldplay and more.

GRAMMYs/Jan 5, 2024 - 06:00 pm

After a wildly successful debut and sophomore record, you'd think it was impossible for Harry Styles to top himself. Yet, his third album, Harry's House, proved to be his most prolific yet.

The critically acclaimed project first birthed Styles' record-breaking, chart-topping single, "As It Was," then landed three more top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Late Night Talking," "Music for a Sushi Restaurant" and "Matilda." The album and "As It Was" scored Styles six nominations at the 2023 GRAMMYs — and helped the star top off his massive Harry's House era with an Album Of The Year win.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit Styles' big moment from last year's ceremony, which was made even more special by his superfan, Reina Lafantaisie. Host Trevor Noah (who will return as emcee for the 2024 GRAMMYs) handed the mic to Lafantaisie to announce Styles as the winner, and the two shared a celebratory hug before Styles took the mic.

"I've been so, so inspired by every artist in this category," said Styles, who was up against other industry titans like Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo and Coldplay. "On nights like tonight, it's important for us to remember that there is no such thing as 'best' in music. I don't think any of us sit in the studio, making decisions based on what will get us [an award]."

Watch the video above to see Harry Styles' complete acceptance speech alongside his collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8 -11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

Here Are The Album Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs