Music Bloggers and Austin Music People unite to host 2013 Austin Music Blogger Awards

Samantha Grasso

Austin Music People and the newly formed Austin Music Blogger Alliance have joined forces to pay tribute to unrecognized bands and industry workers of the Austin music scene.   

This year, the two groups are collaborating to host the 2013 Austin Music Blogger Awards, a night to celebrate the city’s best local musicians of 2013 as nominated by members of the alliance. In addition, the awards show will feature Austin Music People’s Austin Music Industry Awards, which focus on celebrating individuals who work behind the scenes in the Austin music industry. 

John Laird, founder of Side One Track One, one of the nine music blogs within the alliance, said, although the group originally met last summer to discuss ways to become a stronger resource for local artists, it wasn’t until early January of this year that the idea was proposed to host the first ever Austin Music Blogger Awards, known as AMBAs. The idea of forming an alliance shortly followed. 

“[Chris Apollo from the blog Republic of Austin] was like, ‘Hey, I have an idea to do a blogger awards, what do you guys think?’” Laird said. “So it just came together super fast. As that was coming together, we were like, ‘Well, maybe we should have this blogger alliance, and maybe the AMBAs can be a kick-off thing for that.’”

While organizing the AMBAs, Laird said Apollo originally envisioned partnering with Austin Music People, known as AMP, the nonprofit advocacy group for “brands, bands, and fans” of the Austin music industry. At the show, AMP will present awards for categories such as  “best venue sound engineer,” “best local music promoter” and “best concert tech,” and all ticket sales will go to the group.

“There are service industry workers that are the reason we’re the Live Music Capital of the World,” AMP executive director Jennifer Houlihan said. “There are 10 people behind the scenes for every one that’s on stage. A lot of times nobody is getting rich off it. They do it because they love it. If we can, as a nonprofit, [say], ‘You are noticed. We do appreciate your contribution. We do recognize that … it takes a village to make this happen,’ then we’re grateful for that opportunity.” 

While Laird said putting the event together in six weeks was initially chaotic, the alliance pushed for the quick turnaround in order to host the awards before South by Southwest. The lineup for the night includes A Giant Dog, MIRROR TRAVEL, Shivery Shakes, Orthy, Magna Carda and Jess Williamson. 

“We want to be just one level below [Pitchfork-level coverage] for bands that are on the way to that, but we just want to give them a push and show some recognition for the fact that they’re grinding it out day in and day out — trying to be where those other bands are,” Laird said. “Not only is that a reflection of all the bands that are playing that night but all the nominees [too]. … It’s a great way to support the scene.”

Dougie Do, keyboarder for the Austin hip-hop band Magna Carda, said being chosen to perform at the AMBAs didn’t faze him until he saw the large amount of attention the event was generating. In addition to performing at the awards show, Magna Carda’s song “Shoes $ Money” is also nominated for best single. 

“[Being nominated] feels pretty weird still, mostly because we had never even thought this far ahead when we were in the process of creating the song,” Do said. “We just can’t help but smile when we see it, though. It’s an honor to even be up there with the rest of those bands.”