What is the purpose of music awards?

The announcement of the nominations for the Mercury Music prize along with the press coverage for the Prog Awards begs the question; exactly what is the point of these awards and their associated ceremonies? Are they really about celebrating the best music in all its diversity, or is the whole thing just a PR exercise to sell records? Or just an excuse for a party?

I am more and more of the opinion that it’s the latter. The Mercury, voted on by secretive panel of expects, does seem to have as its prime purpose selling records to the people who buy two or three records a year but like to think they’re far edgier than they really are. Even when I find that for once I actually own one of the nominations. Perhaps that explains why their gig was so full of hipsters?

As for the Prog awards, with half the awards chosen by a committee, and the other half voted by readers who were forced to choose from a seemingly arbitrary shortlist chosen in an opaque manner by the same committee, does winning an award actually mean anything?

But given the way the awards ceremony has gained a lot of favourable press coverage including being reported by the BBC, is quibbling over who did or didn’t get nominated simply is missing the point? Does it matter who the awards went to if it gets progressive music in the press?

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3 Responses to What is the purpose of music awards?

  1. Ian Almond says:

    I would agree that the Prog awards has certainly raised the profile of the genre in the past few years and has gained plenty of media coverage.
    However, I am highly sceptical about the credibility it has in the fans eyes, this year the latest Yes album (featuring yet another stand in singer) is nominated for album of the year weeks before it is released! Advertising spending obviously out weights quality of work.
    Mostly Autumn after their finest album ever in my view fails to get a nomination as usual.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Indeed, having albums in a the nominations that hadn’t even been released made a mockery of the whole thing. I had forgotten about that.

    Mostly Autumn’s and Panic Room’s albums are in a different league to Yes quality-wise. These are two bands at their peak of their powers rather than yesterday’s heroes.

    Still, Yes’ “Heaven and Earth” is a lot better than John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest’s forgettable effort. Best new album by 70s survivors is probably Curved Air’s “North Star”.

  3. Synthetase says:

    I just ignore the press. I hear about good music reading this blog and others, such as Angry Metal Guy. I don’t need someone to be handing out awards to know that an album I like is good. Aren’t all industry awards just a game of mutual back slapping and group therapy?

    Having said that, what I have seen of the press (I get the Burning Shed newsletter so always see the cover of Prog magazine) tells me that the has-beens are the ones who generate most of the press. I can’t tell you how much I don’t care about seeing Yes and King Crimson on the cover. I mean come on, there are great new acts out there, pouring themselves out on stage for the world to see and all you guys want to talk about is 1973?