NYC praises underground music

By Monica Burke
March 8, 2007

Creative Commons/MCT

The PLUG independent music awards took place in New York City on Feb. 10. This awards show is all about breaking the rules of conventionalism.

Unlike the Grammy Awards or the Billboard Music Awards, the PLUG awards aim for giving recognition to the independent genre. They are unlike anything else. The musicians are accessible to their fans, tickets cost just 10 dollars.

Each band plays a 20 to 40 minute set, giving the audience the experience of a concert rather then an awards show. This year’s headliners featured groups such as Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Silversun Pickups, El-P, Deerhoof and Tokyo Police Club.

According to the PLUG website, 25 percent of the global music market is made up of independent artists. The goal of the PLUG awards was to give recognition to those artists who are not celebrated in the mainstream and generally overlooked.

PLUG calls itself, “a collection of music lovers- writers, DJs, webmasters, artists, filmmakers, managers, indie retailers and most importantly fans- who gather together each year to celebrate the artists who live and flourish in the margins.”

The artists who are nominated for PLUG awards are even found in unconventional ways. Their records were found through blogs, instant messenger chats, and conversations with the owner of local record stores and through other fans.

The awards show originated in 2001 after a group of friends who had been trading mixed tapes for years became exhausted with the mainstream music industry’s lack of attention for new and upcoming artists. They decided to celebrate the artists that were already flourishing and experiencing success, just not in the mainstream.

An online ballot was created and sent out to 100 fans. They were asked to pick their favorite indie artists and releases. The future of PLUG was uncertain. Its creators weren’t sure they would receive any responses. After a few weeks they were shocked to find that they received not hundreds but thousands of ballots. Fans who had received the ballots had linked it to other fans and thus created a PLUG online frenzy.

PLUG took a break between 2001 and 2004, however they returned in 2004 with an awards show that was better then ever. The concert took place on February 9, 2005 in NYC which saw performances from nominees and award winners like RJD2, Saul Williams, Ted Leo + The Pharmacists, Dillinger Escape Plan, Aesop Rock and a lesser known Sufjan Stevens play to a packed house that included many winners like TV On The Radio and Jean Grae.

The 2006 PLUG awards voting tripled from the year. before.

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Monica Burke

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