The Best Music Awards Across Genres

There are many music awards celebrating the work of key players in the industry around the world. Across genres you will find awarding bodies that reward up-and-coming artists or honour the famous chart-toppers.

One of the most famous is the Grammy, which has come under criticism for rewarding sales instead of artistic achievement. For example, a song by Debby Boone topped the charts for 10 weeks in 1978 and won her a Grammy, but her music was not considered particularly memorable. Nevertheless, the number of Grammy categories has decreased over time as some awards have been merged or dropped altogether.

The Billboard Music Awards, which were launched in 1940 and are the most prestigious awards in pop music, rank songs, albums and artists based on their popularity as measured by sales figures. They take into account album and digital song sales, radio airplay, touring activity and streaming. The top five acts in each category are listed, and there is a best new artist winner. The telecast is broadcast in a variety of countries.

Another renowned prize is the ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award, which is given for writing about film and television music in either print, broadcast or liner notes. In 2021, Variety film music writer Jon Burlingame won the award for his 4,000-word essay that appeared in the expanded reissue of the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy, which was released by Quartet Records. He is also the host of the popular Disney for Scores podcast and a frequent contributor to the film music magazine Soundtrack.

Other music awards are ad hoc and more specialized. For example, the East Coast Music Awards celebrate the achievements of Atlantic Canadian musicians and promote their work to a national and international audience. The show has been a springboard for performers such as Great Big Sea, Lennie Gallant, Natalie MacMaster, Gordie Sampson and Joel Plaskett. The Stompin’ Tom Connors Lifetime Achievement Award has been awarded to artists such as Edith Butler, John Allan Cameron and Stompin’ Tom himself.

Similarly, the Canadian Country Music Association’s Juno Awards are held annually to recognise the year’s most outstanding performers in the country music industry. The winners are voted on by music fans. The show features performances by a mix of established stars and rising newcomers.

The American Music Awards (AMAs) are the world’s biggest fan-voted music awards. The telecast is broadcast on ABC and globally on the streaming service YouTube Red in more than 120 countries and territories. It is a celebration of the year’s most-awarded artists and musicians and includes special collaborations and exclusive world premiere performances. The AMAs have featured such musical giants as Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, Victoria Monet, Billie Eilish and SZA. This year, Rihanna leads the nominations with 13. Drake is second with 12. Others with five or more include Selena Gomez and Adele.