Earlier this week it was announced that the BRIT Awards had taken the unusual step of 'resting' the Producer Award presentation from next year’s show. And while the party line from both camps is that the two could not arrive at a satisfactory way to judge the category, Music Week sources have revealed that deeper underlying issues are responsible for its 2017 absence.
A press release issued on Monday stated that the Producer Award was being rested next year, outlining the rigorous voting standards around the award, yet failing to clarify why exactly why it was being dropped. It also confirmed that the award would remain a part of its own awards ceremony, despite being ditched by the BRITs.
The statement from Tony Platt, managing director of the MPG Awards Group, said: “For the last eight years we have been proud to present the BRITs Best Producer Award to our UK Producer of the Year and we sincerely hope to be able to do so again. The MPG Awards are peer-led and winners are voted for by established and experienced working professionals during a carefully monitored voting and judging system. We hope that we will be able to work alongside the BRITs in future years. In the meantime, the BPI is continuing to support the MPG Awards through sponsorship.”
However, Music Week sources claim that attempts from the BPI to exert greater influence over the judging of the award is ultimately what has driven a wedge between the two organisations.
Responding to our requests for clarification on the matter, Platt said: “The MPG UK Producer of the Year Award is unchanged and will be presented to the winner chosen by our recent judging panel. That person will have been nominated, voted and judged using our usual fair, transparent and inclusive process, which will continue unaffected.”
While Platt doesn't explicitly state that that judging process was in any danger of being compromised, one needn’t read too far between the lines to get the message.
A spokesperson for the BPI, however, had this to say on the matter: “Over the last eight years, we’ve been delighted to present a BRIT Award for Best Producer to the winner of the MPG Producer of the Year. Until now that selection has been based on the MPG’s voting and judging processes.
“The two awards are, however, entirely separate, even though the same person has previously received both. This year, as people may be aware, the BRITs has significantly changed the composition of its voting academy, and we also annually review our award categories and voting processes. The voting mechanic for the Best Producer Award differed substantially from our other votes and we have not had time to complete a review as to how this might best be structured. As a result, we have decided to rest the Best Producer Award for 2017. We fully recognise the important role producers play in the music industry and will be considering further how best to reflect this going forward.”
Whatever the truth of the matter, the decision to ditch the award at a time when the super producer is arguably more relevant than ever is certainly a baffling one. Surely if both organisations had worked so harmoniously with one another for the past eight years, agreeing on a judging process for a well established award shouldn’t have been too much of a stretch? Especially when the MPG appeared to have a foolproof method in place.
Still, the MPG UK Producer of the Year Award will still be presented at the annual MPG Awards on February 16 2017.
The 2016 Producer Award was won by Alt-J producer Charlie Andrew, while previous years have seen the likes of Paul Epworth (2013 and 2015), Flood and Alan Moulder (2014) and Ethan Johns (2012) honoured in the category.