Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Australian Independent Music Awards at Star City. I had been asked if I would like to attend by the vocalist/guitarist in the band I play in. Apparently we had been nominated for ‘best video.’ I thought it sounded like a fun night out so I said yes.
Now, I have hovered around the edges of the ‘music industry’ long enough now to know that very little of what it purports corresponds to reality. Hence the ‘limousine transport’ from the pre-awards drinks to the venue itself was actually a tacky party bus full of drunk and suitably confused musicians. Similarly, the ‘free drinks’ available to attendees lasted for only a short time before casino bar prices resumed in earnest. The promised opportunity to walk the red carpet did in fact happen, but only after lining up for an hour and a half in a sweaty bus parking dock. The actual red carpet experience more resembled a cattle herding than an actual display of talent, as glammed-up future stars tried their best to appear aloof and nonchalant. It was at this point when I realized that every single band in attendance was likely to have been nominated for an award, thus rendering whole concept of a nomination meaningless. The vain hope of winning an award is what compels them to come and shell out the $70 ticket price. It’s clever marketing to be sure.
These items of false/misleading advertising were easily overlooked. You are there with your mates, so you just concentrate on having a good time like at any other party. The awards themselves were a comical farce which- along with my gin and tonics- lightened the mood and allowed one to enjoy the pageantry appearing on stage. My favourite moment was when the voice over announced a special message from dedicated supporter of the AIMI’s Richard Wilkins. Although a dedicated supporter, old Dick had to appear via satellite from Los Angeles where he was presumably interviewing more important celebrities. Another gold moment was the MC welcoming Australian Hip Hop artists Bliss n’ Esso to the stage and then proceeding to mispronounce their name three separate times. Despite this epic introductory faux pas, the MC still assured the band that they were ‘an inspiration to us all.’ Technical problems marked the rest of the evening. The main trend was for the video presentation to announce the winner of an award before it had listed all the nominations. Winners were announced who were not actually in attendance to receive their award. AIMA legends winner Irwin Thomas had to idly strum away for 5 minutes as the sound guy worked out how to get volume from the acoustic guitar.
Perhaps the AIMA is simply the result of what happens when you get musicians to organise events. Or perhaps, and I suspect this is the case, it is a carefully planned and implemented money making scheme designed to capitalise on the vulnerability and ego of musicians who feel that to be nominated for an AIMA actually means something.