The streaming revolution has fully come to the Grammy Awards' submission process. The Recording Academy will henceforth accept links to streaming service providers in lieu of physical product in most categories. In fact, the Academy said in a statement, "For most categories, we would prefer streaming distribution links for online entry submissions, though CD submissions remain optional."
The Academy stresses that "The links will be used for all of our verification, screening and reviewing stages; thus it is imperative that the links remain active and accurate throughout both rounds of voting.
The cost of submitting multiple physical copies of each release has long been an issue for smaller and independent labels. It has not been as much of an issue for large labels. Now, they are on an equal playing field.
Under the new guidelines, any recording released to at least one of the "majors" of the space -- Spotify (due to its paid tier), Apple Music, Tidal or Google Play, for example -- would qualify as a release in general distribution.