The Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards has changed its voting regulations this year. Usually, there are two rounds of voting open to fans – the first one determines the short list, and the second round of voting decides the winners.
After consultations with several artists, the board of governors for the Manito Ahbee Festival, which produces the awards, decided to change the voting system.
"It was becoming a popularity contest,” said Jacquie Black, manager of the APCMAs.
Now the first round of voting, which opens today, will be determined by about 75 music industry members that include producers, managers, publicists, media-types (myself included) and artists. Their votes will make up the short list, which will be open to the general public.
Manitoba musician Don Amero is one of several artists that support the new voting rules.
“I feel that my potential of winning has suffered because of the two-vote system,” he wrote in an email. “I've had numerous people tell me they voted and then I asked if they voted in both rounds and they didn't realize there was a second round.”
Amero has been nominated a total of 17 times for the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards, and hasn’t taken home a single trophy. That’s not to say his music doesn’t deserve it; he has received hardware from the Canadian Folk Music Awards, the Western Canadian Music Awards and the Native American Music Awards.
Amero isn't alone. There has been a feeling amongst artists and voters for a couple of years now that the awards were becoming more about popularity and not the quality of music.
“I really noticed it last year when I was up for awards,” said Vancouver cellist Cris Derksen. “Manitoba won over half the awards, and I can see how. Their music industry is a big machine that really pushes their artists.”
Being a Manitoba resident, I can see Derksen’s point. I spent 18 years in Alberta and wouldn’t have moved back to the postage stamp province unless there was a strong Aboriginal community here. But as a member of the music media community, it’s my responsibility to know artists from across the country. And it’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.
Sure, I have my favourites. But I also am constantly listening to new music in all genres – I wouldn’t be able to do my job for CBC Music if I didn’t. So it will be interesting to see who makes the short list this year for the APCMAs. Voting on the short list opens to the public on Aug. 13 (and you don't have to be Aboriginal to vote) .
The APCMAs will be handed out Nov. 1 and 2 in Winnipeg.
In the meantime, a small group of us so-called professionals will be listening and researching the open nominations in the first round of industry-only voting. I hope you like our choices, and if you don’t, well, I guess you’ll have at least one person you can blame.
Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards
Manito Ahbee - A Festival for All Nations
on Jul 19, 2012