Streaming-Only Rapper’s Grammy Wins a Milestone



Chance the Rapper’s wins at this weekend’s Grammy awards mark a milestone for streaming as the way public increasingly listens to music. Also how songwriters and composers get paid. 

Chance won three awards out of seven nominations, including Best Rap Album for “Coloring Book,” his third mixtape, which is what the Chicago Southside hiphop artist calls his releases. You can’t buy a CD of “Coloring Book.” You can only stream it—it was the first album to hit Billboard magazine’s top 200 based solely on streaming. 

Streaming is now legit, and the music industry knows it. SoundExchange Inc., which collects songwriters’ royalties when their songs are played on digital services, is currently in a federal appeals court fighting over the rates that services like Pandora have to pay to use music. 

Until this year to be eligible for a Grammy, a recording had to be available for purchase either on traditional physical media or through downloads. Last June, the Recording Academy decided to allow records that were only available for streaming to be nominated. “Coloring Book” was the first streaming-only album to get the nomination under the new rule.