When I began writing for the Greenville Journal six years ago, I had one goal in mind: Getting the word out about our area’s best local, original music. So perhaps you will understand why what I’m about to tell you means so much to me, and to everyone involved.
I’m excited to use my column this week to tell you about the Upstate Music Awards. This is an idea that Wes Gilliam (co-owner and booker for the Radio Room) and Jeremy Theall (owner of Future Chord booking and management company) came to me with a few months back, and it allows both local musicians and fans to nominate the original bands and artists from this area for awards in 12 categories.
You might notice that, in the categories, there are no specific genres listed. That was a deliberate decision. Part of the point of the Upstate Music Awards is to bring our local music communities together, and we felt from the beginning that the best way to do that would be to dispose of genre descriptions that often aren’t that accurate, anyway. This is about local, original music of all kinds, chosen by the people who play it and love it.
- Artist of the year
- Best Album
- Best EP
- Best Single
- Best Music Video
- Best Live Act
- Best New Artist
- Best Collaboration
- Best Solo Artist
- Best Studio Producer/Engineer
- Best Album Art/Visual Design
- Best Music Photographer
- Write-in Vote (Artists we didn’t cover, chosen by YOU)
- 864 Award (this would be for an artist with close ties to the community, through service or charity work)
The idea is simple: We want to shine the spotlight on local musicians who make original music. We love our cover bands as much as the next person, but this is for those artists who create their own material, record it, play it live and put it out into the world, whether it’s on an LP, CD, or sites like Soundcloud.
Today, we’re going live with a website specifically dedicated to the nomination process: https://upstatemusicawards.com/.
Both fans and the musicians themselves can submit nominations, but if you’re an artist who wants to participate, we will ultimately need a biography, clips of your music on SoundCloud and an artist photo uploaded to the page. If a fan nominates you or your band, I’ll reach out to you about uploading your material if you want to participate.
For the Best New Artist category, we require that the nominees started their careers in 2019, either by playing or recording mostly original music. All of the releases considered in the Best Album, Best EP, Best Single, Best Video and Best Collaboration category have to have been released in 2019.
Our nomination process will allow both the artists and fans to have their say; you’ll have until Dec. 21 to nominate yourself or an artist you’re passionate about for one of the Upstate Music Award categories. On Jan. 1, we’ll open up the list of nominees to the public for voting; you’ll have until Jan. 23 to vote. We’ll announce the top five finalists in February, and then, in March, we’ll announce the winners at an awards ceremony at Zen in downtown Greenville.
A couple of notes: For our purposes, “local” music applies to the area covered by the 864 area code: That means Abbeville County, Anderson County, Cherokee County, Greenville County, Greenwood County, Laurens County, McCormick County, Oconee County, Pickens County, Spartanburg County and Union County. That’s where you or your band will need to be from.
If you want to participate, you must have a usable band photo, a SoundCloud link where we can listen to your music, and a biography to submit to our Awards site.
It’s a lot of information to take in, and I know there will be a lot of questions. I hope I can answer them for you as we move through this process. First steps are often unsteady, but I hope our path gets clearer over time.
And we need you to spread the word. Share this everywhere you can think of if you like the idea, from social media to conversation to comments, and maybe we can make this work; it’s time to reward the great musicians we have in the Upstate and shine the spotlight on the music they’re making. Let’s do this.
If you’re an artist or fan interested in participating, visit https://upstatemusicawards.com/