Grammy's Difference Between Album Record & Song of the Year

by Timothy Peckinpaugh
Taylor Swift won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2010.

Taylor Swift won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2010.

Rick Diamond/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The Grammy's are among the most prestigious awards given in the field of music. The Grammy awards are presented by The Recording Academy to artists in multiple genres, and are awarded by peers in the field, both musical artists and technical engineers. The categories are broken into two fields; the genre field, which honors achievements in specific areas of music, and the general field, which has the four main categories of Album, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.

Nominating Process

The Grammy Award nominating process includes multiple steps. First, a panel of 150 experts screen the recordings to make sure they are in the correct categories. The Academy members then nominate five choices in each category, and the top five contenders receive a nomination in the various categories. Members of the academy then vote for their choice in up to 20 genre categories of the five nominated entries. Every member also is allowed to vote on the top four Grammy categories.

Album of the Year

The award for Album of the Year honors entire collections of songs in an album. The rules dictate that 51 percent of the material must be new, and not published before, which makes reissues ineligible for the category. The award goes to the artist, producer, record engineer, mixers and master engineer of the album. Notable past winners include "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" by Outkast, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" by Lauryn Hill, "Time Out of Mind" by Bob Dylan, "Thriller" by Michael Jackson and "Rumours" by Fleetwood Mac.

Record of the Year

The Record of the Year category honors single tracks or songs. Songs may come from albums released in the previous year. They may represent songs that were either released in the year the awards are honoring or ones that gained popularity that year. If songs were previously entered, or were a part of a Grammy-winning album, they are ineligible. The award is shared between the artist, producer, recording engineer and sound mixer. Notable winners of the award include "Moon River" by Henry Mancini, "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel, "Killing Me Softly With His Song" by Roberta Flack, "What's Love Got to Do with It" by Tina Turner and "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum.

Song of the Year

The Song of the Year category honors either a new song released in the year the Grammy's are honoring or a song that gained popularity that year. The award is given exclusively to the songwriter, as opposed to the Record of the Year category, which honors the engineering aspects of the song as well. The Song of the Year category honors simply the writer, and, therefore, does not always match up with the winner of the Record of the Year. Past winners include Carole King for "You've Got a Friend," Stephen Sondheim for "Send in the Clowns," Sting for "Every Breath You Take," Seal for "Kiss from a Rose" and Amy Winehouse for "Rehab."

About the Author

A resident of Riverside, California, Timothy Peckinpaugh began writing in 2006 for U.S. History Publishers, based in Temecula, California. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Riverside, with a bachelor's degree in English.

Photo Credits

  • Rick Diamond/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images