About The Prize
WHAT IS THE MERCURY PRIZE?
The Mercury Prize promotes the best of UK and Irish music and the artists who produce it. This is done through the celebration of the 12 ‘Albums of the Year’, recognising artistic achievement across a range of contemporary music genres.
It is the music equivalent to the Booker Prize for literature and the Turner Prize for art.
The main objectives of the Prize are to recognise and celebrate artistic achievement, provide a snapshot of the year in music and to help introduce new albums from a range of music genres to a wider audience.
HOW MANY CATEGORIES ARE THERE?
The Prize has no categories, and is open to all genres of music. There are 12 shortlisted ‘Albums of the Year’ and 1 overall winner. The genres of music that are represented tend to vary from year to year.
WHAT DO THE ARTISTS WIN?
All of the 12 shortlisted artists receive a specially commissioned ‘Album of the Year’ trophy, with the overall winner also receiving a winner trophy and a cash prize of £25,000. More significantly the Prize can ignite public awareness of the winning album, and dramatically increase the profiles of all the shortlisted artists.
WHO CHOOSES THE SHORTLIST?
An independent panel of judges selects the shortlist. The judges listen to the albums that have been entered over many months. They then meet to decide on the 12 ‘Albums of the Year’.
The judges’ decisions are based solely on the quality of the music on the albums.
WHO CHOOSES THE WINNER?
The same judging panel meets again on the day of the Awards Show to choose the overall ‘Album of the Year’. This can be a long process and, as always, the judges base their decision solely on the quality of the music on the album.
WHO ARE THE JUDGES?
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 heads of music.
The 2021 Mercury Prize judges are: Anna Calvi – Musician & Songwriter; Annie Mac – Broadcaster & DJ; Danielle Perry – Broadcaster & Writer; Gemma Cairney – Broadcaster & DJ; Hazel Wilde (from Lanterns on the Lake) - Musician & Songwriter; Jamie Cullum - Musician & Broadcaster; Jeff Smith - Head of Music, 6 Music & Radio 2; Michael Kiwanuka - Musician & Songwriter; Mike Walsh - Music Consultant; Phil Alexander – Creative Director, Kerrang!/Contributing Editor, Mojo; Tshepo Mokoena – Editorial Director, VICE.com; Will Hodgkinson - Chief Rock & Pop Critic, The Times. The Chair of the judging panel is Jeff Smith.
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’.
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, partners, broadcasters or music industry organisations has exerted any influence over the judging process or shortlist and winner decisions. One of the founding principles of the Mercury Prize is that all music be treated equally regardless of genre. This principle is followed at every stage of the entry and judging process.
WHY DON'T I HEAR MORE ABOUT THE ORGANISATION BEHIND THE PRIZE?
In order to ensure that as much media coverage as possible is concentrated on the artists and their music, it has been a policy since the Prize began that the production company behind the Prize does not engage in any publicity or PR activity other than that which directly benefits the artists that it’s promoting. The focus of the Mercury Prize is always on the music and the artists and their albums.
WHERE DO THE ENTRIES COME FROM?
Every year the UK music industry enters around 220 albums for the Prize ranging from well-established artists to new and emerging ones.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ENTRY CRITERIA?
Albums released between 18 July 2020 and 16 July 2021 (inclusive) are eligible for the 2021 Mercury Prize. Please see the entry terms & conditions below for full details of eligibility.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ENTER?
The fee to enter an album for the Prize is £175 + VAT. The fee helps cover the administrative costs associated with the process.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER FEES?
There are no additional fees or requests made for any other contributions or payments.