I am going to say something that will no doubt anger a lot of local musicians, but I feel it needs to be said. And I am speaking only for myself, and not for music groups I participate in professionally.
Let’s says that we want to give an award out to the Best Crocs-Wearing Accordion Player in Denver. How do you do this? Well, let me tell you first how you DON’T do it: through a popularity contest.
If we want to know who is actually the Best Crocs-Wearing Accordion Player in Denver (henceforth referred to as BCWAPID), these Crocs-wearing accordion players should not have to call or message friends and relatives to cast votes. In addition, these Crocs-wearing accordion players should not have to pay a single penny to cast a vote.
The reason is simple: The person who wins the BCWAPID award through a popularity contest is not necessarily going to be the bona fide BCWAPID. Instead, it will more likely be the one Crocs-wearing accordion player in Denver who can wrangle the most votes. Simple as that. This musician may have an impressive email list, have a ton of Facebook friends, and have a basic willingness to shamelessly promote their belief that they are the BCWAPID to all the world, even if their actual skills leave much to be desired. Even the worst Crocs-wearing accordion player in Denver can get votes from mom, dad, both brothers, sister, aunt Mabel, Uncle Sis, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And this is the key. A popularity contest will never tell you who is the BCWAPID. It will only tell you who can solicit the most votes. There is a monumental difference.
If you want to actually KNOW who is the BCWAPID, it has to be determined by a panel of qualified judges who understand music, understand the local music scene, understand fine footwear, and can apply a fair set of standards – mostly objective but some subjective – to a group of qualified musicians to fairly determine who actually is the BCWAPID.
Now, I know that a lot of good people with very good intentions are putting a lot of time into promoting more than one awards program of this type. This is not to disparage them in any way. But too often I see the final list of winners and say to myself, “Really? Seriously? Are we in the same universe?” And without a panel of qualified judges to make these determinations, we can never be sure that the right person won the BCWAPID award.
With a popularity contest, we can only be sure that the top prize will go to the CWAPWTHMISVFHSSC (Crocs-Wearing Accordion Player Who Talked His Mother Into Soliciting Votes From Her Sunday School Class).
Michael Ryan: They’re just like the old battle of the bands promotions we got sucked into when we were young and naïve. Now, we’re just old and hopefully a little smarter and will run from these for-profit shams.
Chuck Lawson: The real winners if these competitions, in a live format, at least, are the venues. After all, the reason clubs hold “battle of the bands” type competitions is to bring new customers into the venue.
From Stan Monroe on Fb, 3/20/17 re Local Music Awards