Saturday, January 17, 2009

Proof, if you needed it, that the Portland Music Awards are complete and utter bullshit

I just received a press release listing the nominees for the Music Spectator-sponsored Portland Music Awards. One of the nominees struck me as rather odd.

Best Compilation Album of the Year:
'Failing Records: Volume' by Failing Records
'PDX Pop Now! 2008' by PDX Pop Now!
'We Rock For Food' by The Union Records
'Lights Out 11'by KINK fm
'Rose City' by the Rose City Project you notice that the volume is left blank for Failing Records? I wonder why that is. Oh yeah, it's because Failing Records didn't release a compilation this year (I just emailed with them to verify this).

There are so, so many things that make this award ceremony a complete farce, but I think this proves what anyone skimming the nominees would suspect--that Craig Marquardo, or whoever is picking these, is just picking the most predictable, acceptable, Portland-embraced artists/venues etc, without giving any real thought to their accomplishments or, in the case of compilation CDs, bothering to listen to them or even verify that they exist. Frankly, it's insulting to those nominees who do deserve recognition in their field.

For the record, I like Failing Records and would probably have voted for them if they released a compilation in 2008 or if I cared enough to actually vote for the PMAs. But look at the other categories if you want some laughs. Here are the nominees for best performance by a touring artist:

Imogen Heap
The Police
Ben Harper
Bryan Adams
Chris Isaak

Oh, neat. Just add John Meyer to the list and we're set. What? He didn't play here this year? Who cares!

UPDATE: 1/19/09
I've emailed with Craig Marquardo a little and it turns out the nomination process was open to the public, not selected by Music Spectator. Marquardo says that 6,200 nominations were made and since then 20,000 people have voted for the awards. This means that the public nominated a non-existent album. I'm not really sure what to make of that.


  1. I like that conflict of interest is not an obstacle either, as made clear by the fact that the PMA's publicist is nominated in the legend category.

  2. Jason, I couldn't possibly agree with you more about the "Portland" "Music" "Awards." I think most people who follow Portland music closely enough to even care about something called the Portland Music Awards probably recognize them as a farce.

    However, as insulting as pulling together a list of nominees without even verifying that they exist is, it is equally insulting to suggest that you would vote for said non-existent compilation over ones that people - such as the many volunteers, like myself, who spent their time submitting to and curating PDX Pop Now! 2008 - actually bothered to assemble. Come on, think about it. Is it more absurd to nominate a non-existent compilation than to state that you would vote for one? That's just a weird claim to make.

    Unless of course, you would be voting in a Dadaist spirit, in which case I commend your choice.

  3. Hi Cary, thanks for the comment. I generally do enjoy selecting the most absurd option in situations like these. Like when the dead guy was elected in Missouri, that was pretty cool.

    In this case, the statement was purely hypothetical. Given my enjoyment of Failing Records Volume 4, I would probably be pretty into a subsequent volume, if it existed. To be honest, I actually haven't heard any of the options (although I did attend the PDX Pop Now! festival, so if forced at gunpoint to choose between the options that do exist would probably choose that one although I do like the Power of County album that Union Records put out).

  4. I should add that I have attended every PDX Pop Now! Festival and very much appreciate what the organization is and the effort that goes into its activities. And I used to have one of the comps (Volume 3 maybe?) and liked it, but I'm just not a CD person, so who I would vote for in this category is pretty irrelevant.

  5. I can't agree more about how bizarre and sketchy these "awards" are gentlemen. The only thing I will say is that there are a handful of great bands who are caught up in the whole mess by being "nominated" and don't deserve any of its fallout. Bands like Blind Pilot, Tea for Julie, HorseFeathers and Derby have all been a part of PDXPOPNOW! and the Portland music scene in a big way. There's part of me that's glad anytime recognition is handed out. I came across "another blog" who started bashing anything and everything that was even peripheraly involved. It was sad and not very well thought out. But as far as embracing this institution . . . I smell a rat too! - Emily Welles (

  6. Really it's an honor to be nominated! Even though we never put anything out. OK, so let me just be real about this whole Portland Music awards thing; It is utter Bull Shit! Last year I went to the Portland Music Awards, Old Town Music (where I work my normal job) was nominated for best Music or guitar store and Failing Records #4 was nominated for best Portland Comp. I figured the Trade Up Music... Or maybe us might get the best music store award, because we where up against Portland Music and Apple Music or Guitar Center, I can't remember. And Portland Music got the award?!?! So I went down later that night and looked at their magazine that just came out that night and Portland Music had this giant add in it, it might have even been a two page add. It really looked like the whole thing was fixed to me. Then when there was the best Comp I thought "PDX Pop Now will get it because they probably moved more that year." And that would make sense to me, even though I have the Failing Records thing going on, but a benifit record for cancer research won. Which is weird, because I think if a comp is supposed to even be nominated it's focus should be on Portland and it's musicians. Soooo... What's the solution here? Every one thinks this guy is a total bull shit dude, and he is, and people are getting all excited about it all. He's got a lot of publicity for the last awards show he put on. Maybe we all should make some sort of union or group or what ever that is legit and has good people doing good thing in Portland whit music and have them decide who get's highlighted. I know it's not 100% but the Willamette Week's top 10 bands thing that they do every year seems to have a lot of different people who are doing things in a good way in Portland. I would never want to be the person to organize something like that, but If We all do something that isn't total bull shit, then it will be better for everyone in Portland.

  7. its kind of sad for bands that were nominated to hear all the negative talk.
    I too think award shows are at best glorified pats on the back
    but for the bands that have been working really hard for lets say 6+ years and asked their community to help them vote I feel its only fair to include them.
    the year previous we had no idea the awards show was even happening.
    it hurt just a little to not be included.
    yes you can guess I am in a band here in Portland.
    I dont know why some of the groups were chosen and how an album that wasnt even a compilation album got on the bill.
    I had friends who play in town with amazing complilation albums that I know were voted in.
    but somehow fell off the ballet.
    I can only hope that the awards show goes over smoothly
    and that eventually Portland realizes it would be pretty damn cool to have an awards show RE: the talent that is in PORTLAND
    being a native my entire life this city is overflowing with talented people, its just a shame the title is how you can make some movement being an independent artist.
    I was surprised to see national signed acts for such an independent awards show.
    its hard to think that the "unkown" will even have a chance against the national acts.
    but we shall see.
    crossing our fingers..
    much respect.
    - a working musician who sings her heart out daily for this that we call our art -

  8. I actually made nominations on the website and have a possible explanation. There were five blank spaces for each category. Personaly, I couldn't think of more than a couple of comps that came out in 2008 and I wrote in Failing Recs. Comp assuming that there propbably was one. Since, there most likely wasn't many in the first place, it probably didn't take many nominations to get one on the ballot. There were probably a ton for PDXPOP and whatever else had some straggling votes made it on there. It's only a guess that's made from my own experience on the site. - Elliott

  9. On November 1st, the public was asked to nominate up to five candidates each in 22 categories on Just over 6,200 votes were counted, and this made up the final nominations.

    On January 1st, the final nominees were announced, and once again the public was asked to vote. This time, another 16,000 votes were counted (over 22,000 in all). These winners will be announced on January 29th.

    I selected the categories (for better or worse), set up the website, the event, and anything else. Though neither myself, nor any employee of Music Spectator, and assorted other related parties are allowed to vote in the process.

    This is 100% voted on by the public. We did take steps to avoid stuffing the ballot box: limitng to five votes per IP address(2,500 were thrown out), international email addresses(another 200), and other measures.

    In the case of Failing Records: Volume 5, we received a large number of votes, enough to count it in the top five. When I went to the Failing Records MySpace I saw their info on Volume 5 and called it good. Clearly, we should have made a stronger effort in validation.

    We did send Failing Records an email notifying them of their nomination, to which they responded by saying 'thank you, hope we win"...

    For anyone with bitter apples about not winnign any awards, that is a matter of you and the public. Clearly there is a reason the majority of voters chose the way they did. Again, out of my hands, but also not exactly a good showing of a gracious loser.

    I have fielded many calls about "Why weren't we nominated?". Mostly, it is because they only found out about the event AFTER the nomination process was over. Bands and other nominees rev up their fanbase, do the same type of promotion as they would for a big show of theirs.

    While I am comfortable with the fact that not everyone shares my vision of what we have been trying to do with this award show, I do hope that no one loses sight that this is a non-profit venture designed ONLY to give much needed exposure and acclaim to a deserving local music scene.