Everett True

It’s just another shitty music award. Who gives a crap?

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Folk are getting hot under the collar about the recent Jagermeister-sponsored AIR (Australian Independent Music) awards. Particularly the awarding of the “best independent album” category to Cloud Control for Bliss Release, an album distributed by Universal Music. And also particularly at the fact the host of the “independent” music awards was one of Nova 969 breakfast time hosts…. Nova 969 being particularly noted for its generous support of Australian independent music.

See Marcus’ fine piece at The Vine on the subject.
And Brisbane blog Passenger Side’s amusing rant.
And several Mess And Noise articles on the subject, where a lot of the more entertaining commentary occurs in the comments sections.

Several worthy folk have seen fit to quote my old sparring partner Michael Azerrad from his Our Band Could Be Your Life idiot primer stating “that if an artist has any ties with a major label then that artist cannot be called independent”, in a somewhat futile attempt to define independent once and for all. Seems pointless. As Marcus points out in his Vine article, ” in the music industry such a definition seems laughingly obsolete. Whether through links to subsidiaries, grants, prizes, or flat out donations, the artists that can say they are truly self-sufficient or ‘independent’ are few and far between.”

So listen up. I only have a couple of points to make.

1. If you call your awards “independent… anything”, you’re on a hiding to nothing. Sure, the AIR misuse of the word is blatant, but they weren’t breaking their own definitions. Their own definitions were clearly spelled out… well, sort of. And they should know, because they are the “Official Home of Australian Independent Music”, as their website has it. (You can tell they’re ‘independent’ as they can’t even afford a proof reader on their About page.)

The very notion of independent is ridiculous, as Marcus rightly states (the irony of using a definition of the word from an American critic who has done nothing but define the mainstream throughout his career is, I’m sure, not lost on him). The AIR awards are a crock of shit, not worthy of even semi-serious discussion, but how – in that – do they differ from any of the other feted awards the Australian music industry sees fit to give away on an alarmingly regular basis?

There’s the Triple J awards, given to the artists that are played most on Triple J. There are the ARIAs, given by the Australian music industry to the artists that have shifted the most units for the Australian music industry that year. There’s the AMP, Australia’s own Mercury Music Award (although of course the Mercury Music Award is now called the Barclaycard McDonalds Texaco Debussy Vodaphone Nationwide Prize) – given to the artist who wasn’t awarded either a Triple J gong or an ARIA. Brisbane even has its QSong awards, sigh. One more way of redistributing money to the same handful of musicians.

2. A conversation with one of my blog students earlier today.
“People are treating our blog like it has value.”
That’s because you treat your blog like it has value. If you don’t, why should anyone else?

This is a question that the organisers of the AIR awards might want to consider, and very soon – to judge from the chorus of condemnation from what would be termed the ‘independent’ music sector in any other part of the Western world, the very sector they are presumably claiming to represent.

3. It’s usual form for folk in the closeted world of the Australian music industry to accuse anyone who disapproves of the way stuff gets done of ‘jealousy’. (It’s a very common excuse up here in Brisbane.) Like, all we want is to be in with the hep cats. Yep. That’ll be right.

I got asked one time on ABC radio how I had the gall to slag off Silverchair when they’d been the recipients of several ARIA awards the year before. “Who would you have given the awards to?” the presenter aggressively demanded. You don’t understand. I don’t like awards, full stop. Isn’t it enough reward that hundreds of thousands of people have bought their CDs and love their music?


“Yes. But who would you have given the awards to?”

39 Responses to It’s just another shitty music award. Who gives a crap?

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