Between the basement show scene, experimental electronica scene, the roots scene, and the rap scene, there’s a lot happening in Boston when it comes to local music. If there’s one thing that could gather all of the music scene together in one place, though, it’s the Boston Music Awards—and this year, that’s exactly what they’re trying to do.
Musicians, writers, photographers, promoters, bookers, industry members, and fans alike will gather at the House of Blues to celebrate one of the best year’s our city has seen for music. But for those who’ve never been before, the idea of a proper music award ceremony can seem intimidating. To break down the barriers and resolve whatever unanswered questions you may have about the event, we wrote a FAQ to prep you for the event. Hopefully we’ll see you there.
OKAY, SO WHAT IS THIS?
The BMAs is an annual award event celebrating the music community in Boston that started back in 1987. It looks to highlight not just the musicians killing it in our city but the people who work behind the scenes as well. On one night in December, your favorite rappers, live engineers, promoters, journalists, and more meet inside a venue of choice to celebrate one another’s hard work—making sure the award-worthy get credit. The whole thing lasts about three to four hours and is open to all ages and all people, regardless of their affiliation to the city or music.
WHEN DOES THIS HAPPEN?
The 2018 BMAs take place at the House of Blues this Wednesday, Dec 12. The event kicks off at 6:30 pm, meaning you won’t have to stay up until midnight to see who wins Artist of the Year. Tickets are only $20, and all ticketing fees will be swiped in order to make sure anyone who wants to attend can attend. As far as weeknight concerts go, it’s pretty ideal.
WHO ARE WE EVEN CELEBRATING?
Everyone, so take a deep breath: rock bands, rappers, unsigned artists, live performers, house bands, country singers, DJs, metal bands, punk acts, R&B artists, jazz virtuosos, Americana bands, studio producers, session musicians, live engineers, music venues, photographers, blogs, and promoters. To narrow things down, there were two rounds of ballots. First, general nomination ballots were sent to the 400 members of the BMA nominating committee, all people involved in creating, running, and supporting Boston’s music scene. Once nominees were selected and announced, voting was open to the general public for several months before closing in early November. That means every winner was chosen by the people of Boston. Kinda wholesome, right?
WHY IS THIS A BIG DEAL?
Look, Boston never gets recognized when it comes to popular music in the US. Of course, most of you reading this know how killer our scene is, but those outside of Massachusetts don’t. Award ceremonies are trivial and voting is often a popularity contest, but they serve their purpose. Bands struggling to get noticed can use an award to help gain attention and credibility, whether they’re aiming to get a promoter, tour the country, or land a record deal. Other industry people never get recognized at all, and getting noticed like this feels like a serious accomplishment for an otherwise behind-the-scenes role. The BMAs are one of the few nights a year where Boston’s music scene gets to celebrate how kickass it is and recognize the strides we’re making—and all the ways it can grow in the future.
WHAT’S THE AWARD CEREMONY LIKE?
Crowded, giddy, and fun. First and foremost, it’s a live concert and awards show, so those two things take priority in terms of time. This year’s concert will see Ashley Jordan, Cliff Notez, The Devil’s Twins, GHOST GRL, Jonny Glenn, Justin Clancy, OC45, Oompa, Party Bois, and Valleyheart take the stage. Meanwhile, there’s other things to do. A handful of people will dress up to feel fancy. Others will wear their normal attire. There’s a photobooth for your red carpet moment. There are special drinks available to order to cheers your friends. Local nonprofits and organizations will table to introduce people to their work. It’s both formal and low-key all at once, and we wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
NO OFFENSE, BUT HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM LAST YEAR?
Representation. With 36 categories, this is the largest BMAs ballot in the franchise’s history. For starters, this year’s ballots have expanded to include 10 nominees, whereas past year’s categories roughly included five. The Male and Female Vocalist of the Year categories merged together to form Vocalist of the Year, which now includes nonbinary musician Walter Sickert as a nominee. Music Blog of the Year changed to Music Publication of the Year, a change of technicalities that allowed outlets like Boston Herald and DigBoston (hi!) to now be included. New category Music Journalist of the Year was also added, showcasing some of the city’s strongest writers like Amelia Mason and Arielle Gray. Best of all, artists who have been silently killing it—Oompa, Aubrey Haddard, Billy Dean Thomas, Edge Petal Burn, and more—were nominated for the first time. It’s credit where credit is due, and it’s best celebrated with you.
BOSTON MUSIC AWARDS. WED 12.12. HOUSE OF BLUES, 15 LANSDOWNE ST., BOSTON. 6:30PM/ALL AGES/$20. BOSTONMUSICAWARDS.COM