Artist registration is under way for the ninth edition of the Madison Area Music Awards, with a sign-up deadline of Jan. 31. The first round of open voting to determine this year's nominations will begin in February, with the nominations announced March 24 and the 2012 ceremony set to take place June 2 at Overture Center's Capitol Theater.
The Madison Area Music Awards share an acronym with the organization that presents them, the Madison Area Music Association. That group continues to expand opportunities for youth musical education. Since 2006, more than $38,000 has been distributed to local schools and organizations in the form of instrument or cash donations. (It's all detailed at themamas.org, along with guidelines for applying for support grants.)
The MAMAs' mission has always been twofold, says co-founder Rick Tvedt. "We do the charitable mission work to fund music programs for youths and to provide instruments," he notes. The organization also works with professional musicians. "We can be there to help the artists with their merch, as well as promote the shows through our own channels and hopefully bring more people out."
One way that the MAMAs promotes local artists is the yearly award nominations and the ceremony, which remains its major promotional event. Over the years, the organization has tweaked the nominating and awarding process. A big step was removing the controversial fee, $10 per category, charged to artists for entries.
"Last year, we had several sponsors for the award categories, and we were able to waive all the [artist] registration fees," says Tvedt. "The fees were necessary to get the organization off the ground, and after finally getting a good handle on the process we were able to eliminate those."
Artists and fans planning to vote still must pay the $5 MAMAs member registration fee, which goes directly to charitable activities. That fee, says Tvedt, "serves as a monetary roadblock to keep people from manipulating the voting system."
For 2012, some changes in the awards categories are meant to encourage young performers to participate. A youth album category has been added, and youth instrumentalist/vocalist categories are expanding to match the adult slate. Youth song and ensemble/band awards return, as will honors for the regional finalists in Launchpad's annual battle of high school bands.
Youth artist eligibility also is expanding beyond Dane County, says Tvedt, to "a circle roughly from Portage to Jefferson to Monroe and Dodgeville." Along with Launchpad's participation, the youth programs are coordinated in conjunction with the Wisconsin School Music Association and Globe University, which will select the winners rather than via an open voting process. The membership fee is waived for youth artist registration, which remains open until May 15. However, any youths wishing to vote in the adult categories will need to pay the $5 membership fee.
Another new wrinkle this year is artist and fan registration events at the source: local clubs. "We plan on being at local music events [in all genres] at least three times a month, every month," says Tvedt. The next registration events are Dec. 30 at the High Noon Saloon and Jan. 17 at Inferno.