I’ve always thought the traditional model for music awards was messed up.
In 2004 I won an bNet award for ‘best compilation’. I was stoked to receive an award as I am a huge fan of the bNet but I felt like a douche.
I’d released six compilations already that year, was it for any in particular? Those compilations individually weren’t that great, I knew that – they were to accompany a magazine and I was doing them monthly, every edition had a dodgy track or two at least.
The Involve Records compilation nominated against me was far superior than any of the compilations I had released. It was finely curated, had amazing songs and was an important document.. Who even voted for mine? I didn’t know. How did the process work? There was nothing “best” about my “compilation”, I'd just released a bunch of them and people knew the name.
Discovering the Involve Records compilation through it being nominated that year and me being so impressed by it, led me to asking the man behind it, Bevan Smith, to do mastering on all my future compilations. We’ve been friends since, have toured together, I’ve released an album of his and have worked on several projects together including a band being formed which led to my first overseas tour management/booking role.
This to me was the beauty of the awards - I didn’t gain anything by winning other than a slightly enlarged ego for a few days and something to help my parents quantify my bizarre career. I did get a pretty cool trophy that got broken, but other than a Wikipedia mention, nobody remembers or cares about me winning that award, however, through the community that came together around those awards – I built an important musical relationship, changing my life.
I’ve always thought that emphasis on bringing the community together was what was missing from the traditional format of music awards. I wanted to create a system where less emphasis was put on the “winners” and the competitive aspect and more emphasis on bringing everyone together, making sure nobody was left out and that the awards themselves became as important a document as the achievements it was celebrating – that the standout achievements of the year actually get taken seriously because the transparency of why they got there is visible.
I wanted something for the fans and the global music community that lived on forever – not just one night of back slapping and slightly increased xmas sales figures.
I’ve always loved a challenge and creating a credible music award format seemed the biggest of them all. I think I’ve done it.
I am still yet to work out exactly how this is going to work. I am currently thinking mid-late March 2015 and I have a pretty sweet plan. The book/annual is the primary result of this project, but I want to work a sweet (back-slapping) party where entry includes a copy of the book and ideally a few award parties around the country. Announcement will be made as soon as I lock down a plan.
Because of the nature of how this project works, the individual communities/representatives put forward their own choices of their selections for "album of the year" etc, however, before they make their choices I will send them a spreadsheet of all the submissions to assist them with their own choices.
For the "Art of Music" categories, cover and poster - these awards are based purely off of the submissions.
This is a really experimental approach to music awards and I don't expect it to be without fault first year out.
One of the most important aspects of any highlighted achievements being credible is there being transparency behind the process of how they got there. Just like was so clearly highlighted in this recent debacle in Australia, with an album being nominated for Album of the year in 2014 which isn’t even being released until next year, nobody really knows why albums are nominated, who is voting and how those votes are tallied.
In NZ, the awards are so geared towards selling albums at Christmas, in 2003 they blatantly moved them from being held early in the year and celebrating the previous year, to being held a few months out from the end of the year so winners could benefit from a few extra Xmas album sales. The awards are simply for the industry to make an extra buck getting additional sales from already successful recordings, there is no effort to recognise anything outside of a small sphere.
How The Year in Music works is that as well as peers, anyone who can prove they represent a community can be included in the voting process. The voting process itself is the showcase of the whole project. The word community in this context is very broad and can include blogs, journalists, hosts of radio shows, websites, record labels, events – anything/anyone that has a following/community or a respected opinion.
Each community’s votes are given a separate page each in a showcase book. That page has a brief introduction to the community and shows their votes for the various categories. Each of those votes will include relevant information on each artist, links etc so each page becomes an important reference.
These communities can represent any genre of music and which is why the resulting book is the defining part of this project. Imagine you want to find out about what happened in music in NZ in 2014 – just reach for this document – it will lay out, side by side through all the important communities– experimental underground through to mainstream the highlights of the musical year. A document that people all around the world can access easily and see what happened in NZ in music.
Votes are tallied throughout the book and these are presented differently. For example, the top five voted albums over all the communities will each be given an additional individual page at the back of the book going more in-depth into that album.
The videos that receive the most votes will receive a page showing some screenshots and detailed information about the production of the video with crew etc. The most voted album covers will receive a page each to show the cover big + potentially show other pieces of the artwork, or workings etc.
Everything is transparent. You’ll see who voted, you’ll see why they were chosen to vote and you’ll see how those votes were tallied – but most importantly, you’ll get to see who the communities are in NZ that are doing shit.
And there is no room for bitching. Nobody needs to be left out. If you can prove you represent a reasonable size community than you can be represented in The Year in Music. Additional judges are asked to vote on particular categories, for example, prominent video directors will be asked to vote for their favourite videos, artists and curators will be asked to make votes on the visual art.
Because everything is open and exposed, there is nothing to hide. Being the first year of the project there are bound to be mistakes and ways we can improve and we can only do that with your suggestions.
This may seem confusing now, but it will all make sense soon.
If you have any other questions, send me a message through the Contact page (under "About"). This is a really experimental approach to music awards and I don't expect it to be without fault first year out and I know its kinda confusing.