Awards are an interesting thing and I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately, especially given the success of my beloved client Nic Nassuet. I mean – what do they mean in the long run, and,more specifically, what can they mean for you? They actually have a surprising amount of clout, even if the event itself can feel a bit circle jerk-y. The fact of the matter is that awards, while perhaps not super relevant to your fans, help you, and your PR people to construct a narrative based around them. Furthermore – these awards can hook you up with the right people – because as discussed in previous articles – this is exactly the type of thing that is going to help to get you in the same room as the other folks who genuinely care about independent music and what it can do for the world.
With certain award ceremonies it can feel like everyone gets a nomination or an award, and sometimes this is true. That’s why you need to be careful who you decide to work with. In a lot of cases it can be an executive decision since a lot of these places demand that you pay to submit. As a matter of fact the places that don’t make you pay to submit are probably just factories. The idea of a small paywall is actually very important to these things, as I have found out, because though the payment is a bit annoying it is actually a very smart way to make sure that you only have serious people applying. Paying 25 bucks is going to chase off a lot of poseurs who are just there trying to be cool and be a part of something but whom don’t really merit any honors or accolades.
Ultimately – it boils down to the 4 C’s – constant, compelling, creative, content. And the fact of the matter is that awards are going to be a key part of that. Frankly speaking – If you’re willing to dump 50 bucks into a Facebook ad then you should be willing to dump 50 bucks into awards that can give you some form of recognition. It’s ultimately why a lot of these awards become circle jerks, because a limited number of people are willing to spend the money. Yet those who do tend to be the best of the best, people who realize this might be the only way forward. You need to be aware of this. Most awards are mere puffery, and that’s going to be the fact of the matter from minor accolades all the way up to the Grammies but that’s the case with all sides of the music industry. With awards, it’s knowing which ones to pick which is ultimately what is going to separate the boys from the men.
One of the beautiful things about these awards shows is that you meet two distinct types of people. The first type of person who you meet is the kind who think that these actually mean something and are going to move you forward among fans. They believe that it will directly impact your draw. The second are the ones who realize that this is part of a larger narrative an who understand what I means in a larger context – the idea that it pads your credentials and grows your profile to people who matter. They realize that maybe these awards won’t raise your draw, but it could certainly justifying you raising your guarantee. These people don’t care what awards you won, but they care that you are invested enough to pay the money and invest in the production values that are going to win you the awards that you evidently deserve.
The thing is – these awards are a vetting process. They are the way that people can help to figure out who actually matters and who actually cares. Sure the individuals might have great music or be the real deal, but being a person who is willing to invest is going to get you interest from people who truly matter. If you can win an award, that’s not necessarily going to raise your guarantee or launch you to success right away, but it is going to make people a little more comfortable with investing in your band. Why? Because they see that if a panel of judges, no matter how bullshitty they are, believe in your music to at least some degree, and if THEY believe in you, well then that means that other people should find some reason to believe in you too – and at the end of the day that might be the recognition that pushes you over the edge.
Of course your own vetting for a strong awards academy needs to be at least moderatel educated. You’re obviously just wasting time if you apply to everything and then turn around and ask why no one cares. The awards that I have found best are the ones that provide genuine services at a reasonable price in addition to the awards themselves. For example – Indie Music Channel will also help hook you up with discount rate radio placements and seminars that will help you find your way forward in the music industry in a meaningful and helpful way. I’m hesitant to recommend any other groups by name, simply because your bands needs are very case by case and that will directly impact where you should consider submitting.
So is it worth investing a few hundred bucks in awards ceremonies? Yessiree bob, and it’s worth investing just as much in going to accept your award in person. Yes, there needs to be a vetting process, and yes, you need to be careful in how you do it, but it’s a crucial step forward if you want to really do something in this industry. It’s going to let you meet some important people and figure out what you really want to do with this weird thing that we call music. In a world where everyone makes music, its things like this that separate you from the rest. Awards, while definitely a distinctly Los Angeles thing are going to be a key for any independent musician going forward because they allow us to prove ourselves and find a path to freedom despite the fires and the flames.
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