It’s spring, and that means awards season is rapidly approaching. It also means it’s time for Australia’s peak music body ARIA to roll out yet another revamp to their struggling ARIA Awards.
The awards night celebrating Australian music achievement has been struggling to find an identity for the last few years, and last years attempt at reviving its popularity had mixed results, so much so the awards were kicked off the commercial television stations and relegated to digital only station Go! due to dwindling ratings.
The 2012 ARIA Awards, due to be held on 29th November, will again suffer the indignity of a digital-only broadcast, but organisers this year are instead focusing on community engagement online, as well as turning the $500 a head event into a week long party in Sydney.
“It’s an evolution of what we started last year which was to embrace all things digital,” said ARIA CEO Dan Rosen to Pedestrian, after 2011′s awards attempted to undo the damage from 2010′s train wreck.
“For the first time last year we launched ‘Access All Areas’ which was a second screen approach to the awards so you could see what was going on backstage on your phone or tablet while you were watching it. That’s something we want to continue to evolve this year.”
“Last year we had nine of the top ten trending topics on Twitter and a lot of engagement on YouTube and Facebook, so we want to continue to evolve our digital presence this year. We also want to engage our audience more and we’ve done that by increasing the number of publicly voted awards including ‘Best Video’ for the first time and ‘Best Australian Song’. We’re really keen to get as many music fans involved as possible.”
“It’s a balancing act. One thing we do realise is that TV is one component, but we now look at all eyeballs as equal – whether that eyeball is on TV or on a mobile phone, a tablet or on the web. To us that’s why having the second screening, as well as all the other elements on offer.”
Organisers have also moved the awards night from the traditional Sunday, to the less-competitive Thursday in the hopes they’ll find more of a primetime audience. The awards have also been moved again, this time to the Sydney Entertainment Centre situated right near the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
But the biggest change to the awards format will be the transformation to a week-long festival, with organisers hoping that the runaway overseas success of awards alumni Gotye and Kimbra has reengaged the community with Australian music.
ARIA Week will feature a number of artist showcases in and around Sydney’s CBD in the lead up to the awards ceremony with “up and coming artists who we believe to be fitting for ARIA nominations in the future,” and an industry conference is planned for musicians and those aspiring to join the industry.
“We will also be doing master classes in relation to the industry,” says Rosen. “Which is in an incredibly fast paced and ever-evolving thing to be involved with, so we want to explore some of the issues that are driving the industry forward and we also want to hold a big event about how social media and music have come together.”
“The other thing we’re very keen on is making the ARIAs the focus for Australia and the wider Pacific region for the music market,” he continues. “Australia just became the sixth largest music market in the world so we’re increasingly becoming a market that has global relevance and we want to make sure we can expose our artists – not just to everyone around Australia, but everyone around the world.”
“We’re hoping to continue to grow our total audience, and that’s across television, web and mobile. We had a great year last year in building that, and we want to continue to double our web audience year on year.”
The 26th ARIA Awards will be held on 29th November 2012 in Sydney. The ARIA Academy is currently voting for potential nominees with voting closing on 10th September before finalists will be announced.
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