How many albums are in your record collection? You see, confusion between the terms "album" and "record" are nothing new, as vinyl albums and vinyl records are often called “records”—but this terminology has roots in the history of both.
In the early days of vinyl, a 45-rpm (meaning "revolutions per minute") disc would hold one recording on each side, with an "A-side” —usually the hit single—and a "B-side," meaning a second single, outtake or sleeper hit.
Later, when long-playing records came around at 33 1/3-rpm, more music could be stored on each side because the rotation speed was slower, and "tracks" were born. A series of recorded songs, or tracks, could now fit on a single vinyl and make it an album.
Makes sense? Good! Now let's see how this applies to two GRAMMY Award categories in the General Field: Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year…
Album Of The Year, Explained
Fast-forward to today, when music is enjoyed in a multitude of formats: So, what makes an album eligible for the Album Of The Year category of the GRAMMY Awards? According the Recording Academy official Awards Department guidelines, recordings must contain at least five different tracks and a total playing time of 15 minutes or a total playing time of at least 30 minutes with no minimum track requirement.
Voters in this category are expected to consider the quality and artistry of the collection of tracks as a whole, and this GRAMMY is awarded to any artist, featured artist, songwriter of new material, producer, recording engineer, mixer, and mastering engineer with at least 33 percent playing time of the album. For example, last year at the 60th GRAMMY Awards, Bruno Mars' 24K Magic won Album Of The Year.
Record Of The Year, Explained
On the other hand, the Record Of The Year category awards a single track and recognizes the artist’s performance as well as the overall contributions of the producer(s), recording engineer(s), and/or mixer(s), and mastering engineer(s). Bonus points if you read up on how this category is distinguished from Song Of The Year (hint: Song Of The Year is a Songwriter(s) Award…).
For example, at the 59th GRAMMY Awards, Adele's mega-hit "Hello" won Record Of The Year. Her album 25 also won Album Of The Year, but "Hello," being an individual track on that album, was eligible and victorious for Record Of The Year.
In both cases, with Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year, recordings must be released in the proper eligibility period and available to the public as stand-alone purchases or audio-only streams, although exceptions are made for opera and music video/film.
For further information on the contrast between these formats, the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame is filled with both, clearly labeled. For more helpful information on the GRAMMY Awards process, including key dates, a process overview and FAQs, head over to GRAMMY101.com.