WHAT IS THE MERCURY PRIZE?
The Barclaycard Mercury Prize promotes the best of UK and Irish music and the artists that produce it. This is done primarily through the celebration of the 12 ‘Albums of the Year’.
The Barclaycard Mercury Prize for Album of the Year is the music equivalent to the Booker Prize for literature and the Turner Prize for art.
The Prize is best known for its annual Awards Show, but it also celebrates live music through the ‘Barclaycard Mercury Prize Sessions’. It also helps people discover new music on a more regular basis through its ‘Recommends’ website.
The main objectives of the Mercury Prize are to provide a snapshot of the year in music, to encourage debate and discussion about music, and to help introduce new albums from a variety of musical genres to a wider audience
HOW MANY CATEGORIES ARE THERE?
The Prize has no categories, and is open to all genres of music. It can only reflect what’s released in a given year – so the genres represented, whether indie, dance, electronica, urban, folk, jazz… tend to vary from year to year
WHEN DID THE MERCURY PRIZE START?
The first Mercury Prize took place in 1992 and was won by Primal Scream for their album 'Screamadelica'.
WHAT DO THE ARTISTS WIN?
All of the 12 shortlisted artists receive a specially commissioned bronze ‘Albums of the Year’ trophy. The overall winner receives a cheque for £20,000 and special winner's trophy. More significantly the Prize can ignite public awareness of the winning album, and dramatically increase the profiles of all the shortlisted artists.
WHO ORGANISES THE MERCURY PRIZE?
The Prize is run by a small production company that produces all Mercury Prize events and TV programmes.
WHO CHOOSES THE SHORTLIST?
An independent panel of judges selects the shortlist. Their decision is based solely on the quality of the music on the albums. They do not take into account commercial sales, chart success, record label, live performances etc.
Once the judging panel has met to choose the shortlist, the Mercury Prize production team gets to work organising and producing the Albums of the Year Launch event where the shortlist is announced in early September.
HOW IS THE OVERALL WINNER SELECTED?
The same judging panel meets again on the night of the Awards Show in October to choose the overall ‘Album of the Year’. This meeting lasts several hours! As always they base their decision solely on the quality of the music on the album.
HOW DOES THE JUDGING PROCESS WORK?
The judging panel is made up of music experts from a variety of backgrounds. The panel usually includes musicians, music journalists, music presenters, music producers and composers. None of the judges can have an interest in the commercial success of any of the albums being discussed. There are no record label representatives, managers, publishers or music retailers on the panel.
The judges listen to all the albums that have been entered over many weeks. They then meet to discuss them. Simon Frith chairs all the judging meetings and discussions to ensure editorial independence.
HOW IS THE INTEGRITY OF THE JUDGING PROCESS PROTECTED?
The integrity of the judging process is protected at all times. Details of the judging discussions are kept confidential to ensure that all members of the panel are able to express their opinions freely and openly as part of the process, without specific comments or views being attributed to them.
The results of any voting by the judges are not published. This is to ensure that all albums are always viewed as being equal and that no ranking system is employed at any stage of the process. All of the shortlisted artists are treated as having produced an ‘Album of the Year’. There can only be one overall winner each year and importantly, there are no runners up.
Nobody from the production company that runs the Prize has any influence over the judging panel’s decisions or votes. None of the organisers are members of the judging panel or cast any votes. It is the discussions and votes of the judging panel that determine which albums progress within the judging process.
Since the Prize began no other organisation, including sponsors and broadcasters, has exerted any influence over the judging process or shortlist / winner decisions.
One of the founding principles of the Mercury Prize was that all music be treated equally regardless of genre. This principle is followed at every stage of the entry and judging process.
WHY AREN’T THE JUDGES’ NAMES PUBLISHED?
A full list of judges is made available after the Awards Show, once the overall winner has been decided. This helps protect the integrity of the process by ensuring that the judges are not subject to lobbying either at the shortlist or winner stage of voting.
The Prize does not overtly publicise the details of the judging panel as it always focuses on promoting the 12 Albums of the Year rather than the people who have chosen them.
WHO ARE THE 2013 JUDGES?
The following people are on the 2013 judging panel:
Simon Frith (Chairman) – Author and Music Writer; Professor of Music, Edinburgh University
Mary Anne Hobbs – Broadcaster and DJ
George Ergatoudis – Head of Music, Radio 1/1Xtra
Emily Eavis – Co-organiser, Glastonbury Festival
Elisa Bray – Music Editor, The Independent
Jeff Smith – Head of Music, 6 Music/Radio 2
Mike Flynn – Music Writer; Assistant Editor, Jazzwise
Lianne La Havas - Musician
James Curran – Head of Music, Absolute Radio
Kate Mossman – Music Writer and Broadcaster; Arts Editor, New Statesman
John Kennedy – Presenter, X-Posure, Xfm
Greg Cochrane – Editor, NME.com
WHERE DO THE ENTRIES COME FROM?
Every year the UK music industry enters around 250 albums for the Prize ranging from well-established artists to new and emerging ones.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ENTER?
The fee to enter an album for the Prize is £170 + VAT. The fee helps cover the administrative costs associated with the process and hasn't increased for over 10 years.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER FEES?
There are no additional fees or requests made for any other contributions or payments. All shortlisted artists and their managers are provided with complimentary tickets to the Awards Show