History of The Music Victoria Awards
The Music Victoria Awards (previously known as The Age Music Victoria Awards) are an annual Awards night celebrating Victorian music.
The Music Victoria Awards consist of:
- Publicly voted categories – Best Album, Best Band, Best Song, Best Solo Artist, Best Musician, Best Breakthrough Act, and Best Live Act
- Industry voted categories voted on by selected industry panels of experts – Best Blues Album, Best Country Album, Best Soul, Funk, R’n’B or Gospel Album, Best Jazz Album, Best Heavy Album, Best Rock/Punk Album, Best Folk Album, Best First Peoples Emerging Act (Archie Roach Foundation Award for Emerging Talent), Best Intercultural (previously Global) Act, Best Hip Hop Act, Best Electronic Act, Best Experimental or Avant-Garde Act, Best Reggae and Dancehall Act, Best Producer, Outstanding Woman in Music, Best Festival, Best Regional and Outer Suburban Venue (under 50 gigs per year), Best Regional and Outer Suburban Venue (over 50 gigs per year), Best Regional and Outer Suburban Act, Best Small Venue (under 500 capacity), Best Large Venue (over 500 capacity)
- Inductions to The Music Victoria Hall of Fame voted on by an experienced and diverse cross-section of key industry figures including former inductees and chairs for each of the genre panels for the Music Victoria Awards.
Evolution of the Awards
Patrick Donovan started the Awards in 2005 to celebrate The Age Entertainment Guide’s 21st anniversary at the Prince Bandroom. He ran them for six years as The Age EG Music Awards before leaving The Age.
Mary Mihelakos ran them for two years, moving them to Billboard in the city, and in 2013, the Age and Music Victoria entered a joint venture partnership to form The Age Music Victoria Awards. In 2014 Belinda Collins from The Social Crew came on board as the event producer.
In 2015 – its tenth year, The Age Music Victoria awards celebrated the milestone with two big events.
In 2018, the awards event moved to Melbourne Recital Centre, with Laura Imbruglia becoming producer of the event, and a range of new changes introduced. This was the final year of the partnership with The Age.
In 2019 and beyond, the awards continue as The Music Victoria Awards.
Industry Voted Awards
In 2013 The Age and Music Victoria launched the Industry Voted Awards (Previously known as the Genre Awards).
These awards celebrate music from specific genres, sectors and communities that may get overlooked in the public voted awards.
Categories represented are:
Blues, Country, Soul, Funk, R’n’B, Gospel, Jazz, Hip Hop, Electronic, Heavy, Rock/Punk, Best Intercultural (previously Global) Act, Reggae and Dancehall, Folk, Experimental and Avant Garde, First Peoples (Archie Roach Foundation Award for Emerging Talent), Producer, Outstanding Woman in Music, plus the Regional, Venue and Festival categories.
For a list of previous winners and nominees please click here.
How are the nominees decided?
Nominees for The Music Victoria Awards are chosen via an extensive selection process.
For the publicly voted categories:
An Awards committee from Music Victoria select a panel of 30+ industry judges from radio, music blogs, print media, record stores, festivals and more to submit a long list of up to 10 nominations in each category. These lists are then collated into a large voting survey and it is distributed again to judges to vote.
If a judge has a conflict of interest with one of the nominations they will raise this conflict with the Awards committee and the panel will use their discretion to make a decision.
The top five from these results are then selected as the nominees for public vote. Of course, nominations will always be competitive and in the event of a tie, the Awards committee may do a countback, refer to the criteria and will ultimately have the final decision.
For the industry-voted categories:
Each year, we open submissions for the industry-voted categories (venue, festival, producer categories as well as all genre and community categories for artists and releases). Submissions are only open to Music Victoria members. Members can self-nominate or nominate their fave Victorian releases, acts, producers, venues and festivals of the year.
Once submissions close, we send the submissions on to expert panels for each category. They add any other acts, releases, venues, festivals and producers they think should be considered for their category. The final longlists are then collated into a large voting survey for each category which is distributed to judges to vote on.
They are then given a shortlist of the top 15 from this survey to vote on in more detail before they have a listening and in-person final voting session to determine the winner and runners-up.
For the Hall of Fame inductions:
This award celebrates those who have made a significant contribution to Victorian music and the cultural fabric of the state, and is voted on by our Hall of Fame voting academy. The Hall of Fame voting academy is made up of an experienced and diverse cross-section of key industry figures including former inductees, and chairs for each of the genre panels for the Music Victoria Awards.
– At least 50% of the act has been living in Victoria for the last two years, or uses Melbourne as a home base. If you are performing under a solo artist name, you must reside in Victoria to be eligible (residency of backing band is not considered).
– Created or produced multiple singles, an EP or album (category dependent) released between 1 September 2019 – 30 June 2020
– Ran a music festival or active music venue in Victoria between 1 September 2019 – 30 June 2020
Gender and Diversity Quotas for long lists
Panel judges must endeavour to create a longlist of nominees achieving 40:40:20 gender diversity (in line with Music Victoria and the Victorian Government’s gender diversity targets – that is, no less than 40% of women, or 40% men, with 20% unallocated).
Consideration must also be given to cultural diversity, with best attempts made to include cultural diversity in longlist selections.
Music Victoria’s Gender Diversity Policy
Music Victoria is committed to supporting, promoting and celebrating gender diversity in music. As part of this commitment Music Victoria will ensure participation of at least 40% women and 40% men across its activities, where practicable. Music Victoria acknowledges that gender is a diverse spectrum, for this reason the remaining 20% is not rigidly apportioned. This 20% can be in any proportions – it could be male, female, trans or any other gender (including no gender).
What is ‘Victorian’?
The majority of the band (at least 50%) producing the music must be current permanent residents of Victoria (and have lived in Victoria for at least the last two years). The band’s / artist’s music must be available for sale in Victoria and the band / artist must perform in Victoria regularly.
If the act is performing under a solo artist name, the 50% rule does not apply to members of their backing band. The lead performer must reside in Victoria (and have done so for at least two years) to be eligible.
If an artist or producer has moved away recently, they are eligible as long as they were living in Victoria for 2 years immediately prior to and during the making of their submitted music/live activity.
What is ‘Best’?
Depending on the category and in the opinion of the judges, the nominee who shows the most excellence in contemporary music in the period between 1 September 2019 – 30 June 2020. Factors considered include but are not limited to – connection with audience; volume and quality of shows; live appeal; innovation and Victorian spirit.
What’s an ‘Album’?
As a guide but not a definition – an album would be generally accepted to have at least nine tracks, or 33 minutes in length, and a minimum requirement that a track includes at least 20 seconds of music. We understand that artists define whether their release is an album or ep, and some genres are more likely to have short songs and therefore; albums that fall short of 33 minutes in length.
Live albums and cover albums are also eligible.
Best ‘Act’ awards
An act may include a solo artist that performs under their own name or a pseudonym, or it may be a band. A band is comprised of two or more people – a group of musicians who play music together both on stage and in the studio and are known as a collective. We have “Best Album” vs “Best Act” awards as we recognise that not all genres and communities are album-focused, and the title and accompanying criteria for each category is determined in consultation with the chair of the panel.
‘Best Act’ recognises nominees who show the most excellence in contemporary music singles, eps, albums, live performance and music community activated and/or released in the period between 1 September 2019 – 30 June 2020.
What’s a ‘Song’?
A song is a short musical composition of words and music. Instrumental songs are also eligible to be nominated.
What’s a ‘Band’?
A band is comprised of two or more people – a group of musicians who play music together both on stage and in the studio as a collective under a band name.
Best Solo Artist
‘Best Solo Artist’ may include an artist that performs under their own name or a pseudonym. This category does not include lead singers of bands unless they’re being nominated for a separate and current solo career (i.e. they release music and play shows under their own name or solo pseudonym). If you are performing under a solo artist name, you must reside in Victoria to be eligible (residency of backing band is not considered).
‘Best Musician’ may include an artist that performs as part of a band or as a solo artist, and who makes an extraordinary and significant contribution to that act. Nominees will show outstanding skill, creativity and musiciality evidenced in recorded material and/or live performance.
Best Breakthrough Act
‘Best Breakthrough Act’ (previously known as Best Emerging Act) may include an artist who has released multiple singles, an EP or debut album, but cannot include an artist who has released more than one album. Artists cannot be nominated twice for ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ (or Best Emerging Act as it was previously known). Factors considered include but are not limited to – connection with audience and live appeal; quality and size of shows; quality of releases; current buzz; innovation; and Victorian spirit.
Archie Roach Foundation Award for Emerging Talent
“On behalf of the Foundation, I am proud to sponsor this Award. This Award is intended to provide public recognition and financial support for outstanding First Nations artists who are in the early stages of their musical journey.” – Archie Roach.
What is ‘Emerging’?
Emerging’ describes an act, (solo or group) in the early stages of their musical career, who have demonstrated – professionalism, outstanding quality & talent and achieved a breakthrough in public recognition & critical acclaim, as evidenced by their body of work.
Factors considered include but are not limited to –
* Outstanding song writing/storytelling & musicality, and performance reflected in single, EP or album release
* Evidence of public and industry success of releases (eg: physical sales, radio plays incl. community radio, digital downloads/streams eg. Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube
* Current Buzz – broadcast, print, digital and social media activity
* Audience development and live appeal (quality, number and size of shows)
Acts must have released at least one single, or an EP or album or in the period between 1 September 2019 and 30 June 2020. This award cannot include an artist who has released more than one album. If the artist has had multiple albums, irrespective of whether it is a new “project”, they are ineligible.
Acts can be nominated multiple times over the years for this award, but cannot be renominated if they have previously won.
Recipients of the former Indigenous award are ineligible to win this award.
Employees of Music Victoria and, by association, VMDO are not eligible.
History of this Award
This award was voted on and/or presented by Songlines from 2013-2017 under the title Best Indigenous Act and then Best Aboriginal Act. Songlines would elect a representative to chair the panel and to select the judges for the panel. The chair would also vote.
In 2018, Archie Roach Foundation came on board as the new partner for this award, committing a $2000 prize for the winner. Music Victoria and VMDO can also assist the winner with custom business advice or mentorship. Archie Roach does not vote on or chair the award, but he is the namesake and patron, and the renamed award has a new focus on emerging artists at his request.
In 2018, Songlines stepped away and Chris O’Neill (board member of Music Victoria) chaired the voting panel, approaching five First People’s representatives from the music industry to vote on the award.
In 2019, Donna Woods (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Representative, APRA AMCOS) was the chair and enlisted four additional First Peoples’ representatives from the music industry to vote on the award.
In 2020, Kiernan Ironfield from Songlines came on board to chair the award, enlisting 5 First People’s representatives from the music industry to vote on the award. As part of their Partnership contrtibution, Archie Roach Foundation paid each judge an honorarium for their role on this panel.
Recipients of the former Indigenous award are ineligible to win this award.
A music festival is an organized event, lasting one or more days, featuring performances by various musicians, singers, and groups. Factors considered when nominating include but are not limited to – commitment to live music & the Victorian music community, volume and quality of live music element; quality of sound system; quality of overall experience; quality of treatment of musicians, booking that fosters diversity and inclusivity, efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the event; and efforts by the promoter to provide a safe and inclusive environment for musicians, patrons and staff. Any festival may be nominated in a long list by a judge, however only one festival per site can ultimately be in the top 5 for each promoter/site.
For the Music Victoria Awards 2020, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, the Best Festival category includes Victorian created/based live-streamed music festivals in the eligible time period.
Best Intercultural Act (previously Best Global Act)
We define Intercultural music as music that is the result of mutually respectful cultural dialogue and expression communicated in musical forms, such as instrumentation, arrangement, participation, and/or language.
This could include examples such as:
– A solo artist from Africa playing a kora alone on stage/release, who has been based in Victoria for at least 2 years.
– A band comprised of all Greek musicians playing Greek Rembetiko music, with at least 50% of its members having been based in Victoria for at least 2 years.
– A band comprised of all Anglo-Australian members playing traditional instruments and musical style of another culture, with at least 50% of its members having been based in Victoria for at least 2 years.
– A band playing music from a mix of cultures in a style not represented in the available genre categories, with at least 50% of its members having been based in Victoria for at least 2 years.
“Intercultural describes communities in which there is a deep understanding and respect for all cultures. Intercultural communication focuses on the mutual exchange of ideas and cultural norms and the development of deep relationships. In an intercultural society, no one is left unchanged because everyone learns from one another and grows together.”
Source: The Spring Institute.
Best Live Act
Best Live Act can be a band or solo artist. Said act must be known for their exceptional live show and must have performed multiple live shows in Victoria between 1 September 2019 – 30 June 2020 to be eligible.
For the Music Victoria Awards 2020, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, the Best Live Act category includes live streaming activity from Victorian artists in this time period.
We define a producer as someone who oversees, engineers and manages the sound recording and production of a solo artist’s or band’s music. This can include an artist or band member who produces their own work or a sound engineer who plays a guiding role in recording.
A producer may be nominated for their work on one release: a single, an EP or an album that was released between 1 September 2019 and 30 June 2020. We recommend where possible that this is an album, however an EP or single is also acceptable as not all producers work on albums.
While the producer must reside in Victoria, they are still eligible in this category for producing work by a non-Victorian artist. For a co-production at least 50% of the producer team has to have been living in Victoria for the last two years, or uses Melbourne as a home base.
Best Regional and Outer Suburban Act
‘‘Best Regional and Outer Suburban Act’ may include a solo artist or band that has at least 50% of its members residing outside of the Melbourne metro area (including outer suburbs) that by reason of geographical location may face barriers in their music pursuits which have been overcome.
What is ‘Regional and Outer Suburban’?
We class ‘Regional and Outer Suburban’ as an act residing or venue located outside of the Melbourne metro area (including outer suburbs based more than 15 kilometres from Melbourne GPO) that by reason of geographical location may face barriers in their music pursuits which have been overcome. At least half of the group will live outside the Melbourne metropolitan area.
Best Venue Categories
Any venue that hosts contemporary live music may be nominated in a long list by a judge. Factors considered when nominating include but are not limited to – commitment to live music & the local music community, volume and quality of shows; quality of sound system; quality of overall experience; quality of treatment of musicians, booking that fosters diversity and inclusivity, efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the venue; and efforts by the venue to provide a safe and inclusive environment for musicians, patrons and staff.
For the Music Victoria Awards 2020, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, the Best Venue categories include live streaming activity from Victorian venues in the eligible time period.
There are four Best Venue awards:
- Best Venue (under 500 cap)
- Best Venue (over 500 cap)
- Best Regional and Outer Suburban Venue (under 50 gigs per year)
- Best Regional and Outer Suburban Venue (over 50 gigs per year)