In a gruelling year for artists, the 2020 Music Victoria Awards have never been more important

In a gruelling year for artists, the 2020 Music Victoria Awards have never been more important

From left to right - Sampa The Great, Leah Senior and Gordon Koang
Words by Augustus Welby

To receive recognition and plaudits in such a difficult year is the morale booster the local music industry desperately needs.

The Music Victoria Awards are back for another year and this time the format has been rejigged. In order to trim down the annual awards ceremony, the organisation launched a mini online-only event where they handed out seven Industry Awards and honoured two Music Victoria Hall of Fame inductees.

This took place on October 8, with the event being livestreamed on the Music Victoria YouTube page for the first time.

The seven awards handed out included Best Producer, Outstanding Woman in Music, Best Festival, Best Regional/Outer Suburban Venue (under 50 gigs per year and over 50 gigs per year), Best Large Venue (over 500 capacity) and Best Small Venue (under 500 capacity).

The award for Best Producer was a new addition for 2020. Joelistics took the honours for his work on Mo’Ju & Joelistics’ Ghost Town EP.

“[Best Producer] was long overdue and went down really well,” says Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan.

Sarah Hamilton, co-founder of the women-centric not-for-profit agency One of One, took out the inaugural Outstanding Woman in Music award. This category was added in response to another update in the awards format.

“We got rid of best female and best male artist so it’s now more inclusive,” says Donovan. “So we have Best Solo Artist and Best Musician. They’re both all-inclusive now, but we didn’t want to lose a woman’s award as well.”

The two new Music Victoria Hall of Fame inductees honoured on the night were late Melbourne blues musician Chris Wilson and local music titan, booking agent and journalist Mary Mihelakos. With the unfortunate passing of Wilson last year, his family Sarah Carroll, Fenn Wilson and George Carroll accepted his honour and performed a special live rendition of his track, ‘Hand Becomes Fist’.

The flagship instalment of the Music Victoria Awards will take place on Wednesday December 9 at Melbourne Recital Centre and will also be livestreamed via the Music Victoria website and through Channel 31.

A total of 21 awards will be handed out on the night, including more than a dozen industry-voted genre awards spotlighting artists in blues, country, electronic, hip hop, folk, jazz, reggae and dancehall, experimental or avant-garde and rock/punk, as well as the more specialised categories Best Intercultural Act, Best Regional/Outer Suburban Act and the Archie Roach Foundation Award for Emerging Talent.

“Unlike some awards that might just have a general best blues and roots category, we have very specific awards for all of the different genres,” Donovan says. “It really celebrates the diversity of the Victorian music scene. There aren’t that many scenes around the world that have so much depth across so many different genres.”

There are seven categories in the public-voted stream, which aim to celebrate the highest achieving Victorian artists over the last 12 months. The public-voted awards generally attract between 60,000 to 80,000 votes, making it one of the larger public-voted awards shows in the country.

Voting is open now until Friday November 6, and if you’re unsure about your selections, Music Victoria have put together a bunch of Spotify playlists to steer you in the right direction.

“We really encourage people listen to the other nominees, chuck it on shuffle and don’t just vote for the music that you know, but have a listen and discover some of the stuff you don’t know,” Donovan says.

The public gets its say on Best Album, Best Song, Best Band, Best Solo Artist, Best Musician, Best Breakthrough Act and Best Live Act. The public awards tend to be more general, but there’s still impressive diversity represented across the categories this year.

“To see Sampa The Great and Mildlife and Leah Senior, to see some of those genre artists represented as the best overall really showcases the diversity and our broad-ranging music taste,” Donovan says.

Some other names that feature prominently in the nominations are Elizabeth, Baker Boy, The Teskey Brothers, DRMNGNOW, Tropical Fuck Storm and Alice Skye. But Donovan encourages voters and music fans to take a deeper dive into all of the awards categories.

“We have the expert judges who listen to most of the releases throughout the year and they can filter what they believe are the most outstanding releases,” he says. “So the awards are a really good opportunity for people who are a bit out of the loop to come in and discover some acts that they may have missed out on.

“You don’t want to discover a band in ten years when they’re not playing anymore – you want to discover the band when they’re playing shows with their great new material.”

The Music Victoria Awards go down on Wednesday December 9 at Melbourne Recital Centre. Make your voice heard by voting for the public-voted categories here

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