Polaris Music Prize

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Not to be confused with Polar Music Prize.
Polaris Music Prize
Polaris Music Prize logo.png
Awarded for Best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label.
Country Canada
First awarded 2006
Official website www.polarismusicprize.ca

The Polaris Music Prize is a music award annually given to the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label.[1] The award was established in 2006 with a $20,000 cash prize;[2] the prize was increased to $30,000 for the 2011 award.[3]

The Polaris Music Prize is modeled after United Kingdom/Ireland's Mercury Prize [4] and in turn, inspired the Atlantis Music Prize for Newfoundland and Labrador.[5]

The award is sponsored by Scion, SiriusXM, Government of Canada, FACTOR, Rdio, Slaight Communications, Radio Starmaker Fund, SOCAN, Galaxie and The Drake Hotel.

The Polaris Music Prize gala is broadcast live via SiriusXM, video streamed live on Aux.tv and rebroadcast via cable on Aux.tv.[6]

Jury and selection process[edit]

There is no submission process or entry fee for the Polaris Music Prize.[1] Jurors select what they consider to be the five best Canadian albums released in the previous year. The ballots are tabulated with each number one pick awarded five points, a number two pick awarded four points and so on. A long list of 40 titles is tabulated, released in mid June and promoted to the public. The long list is then sent back to the jury. The jurors then re-submit five top picks from this long list.[7]

These ballots are re-tabulated and the top ten titles form the Polaris short list. This list is released in early July and promoted to the public.[1] The ultimate winner is decided by a smaller group of 11 jury members ("The Grand Jury") who convene in Toronto at the Polaris Music Prize gala in late September, and the decision is finalized during the gala as the nominated bands perform.[2] Grand jurors are selected so that each of the shortlisted albums has one person in the jury room to advocate for it; ten are selected on the basis of having named one of the shortlisted albums as their top pick in the balloting, while the remaining jury position is given to a person who had voted for none of the shortlisted albums.[8]

Jurors are selected by the Polaris Music Prize board of directors.[1] The jury list includes more than 200 Canadian music journalists, bloggers and broadcasters. To ensure an impartial outcome, no one with direct financial relationships with artists is eligible to become a jury member.[1] The organization itself is a registered, not-for-profit corporation. Another key benefit of enlisting music journalists, broadcasters and bloggers as judges is the increased media coverage and creates the conditions to draw attention to quality music in a cluttered commercial landscape and increasingly fractured music scene.[9][10]

Notable jurors have included former MuchMusic VJs Hannah Sung and Hannah Simone, Toronto Star music columnists Ben Rayner[11] and John Sakamoto, Darryl Sterdan (Winnipeg Sun), Mike Bell (Calgary Herald), Stuart Derdeyn (Vancouver Province), Stephen Cooke (The Chronicle Herald), T'Cha Dunlevy (Montreal Gazette), Sandra Sperounes (Edmonton Journal), Brad Wheeler (The Globe and Mail), Alan Ranta (Exclaim!), Explore Music broadcaster Alan Cross, CBC Radio personalities Jowi Taylor, Patti Schmidt, Jian Ghomeshi, Matt Galloway, Grant Lawrence, Lana Gay, Lisa Christiansen and Amanda Putz, Voir music journalists Stéphane Martel, Patrick Baillargeon and Olivier Robillard-Laveaux and The Hour host George Stroumboulopoulos.

Polaris Prize Music Releases[edit]

In 2006 and 2007, compilation albums were released featuring songs by the shortlisted artists.

In 2011 Polaris produced four coloured seven inch vinyl singles to celebrate the nominees with each record being a split between two of the nominated artists (tracks from Destroyer and The Weeknd were not included). Each record was limited to 300 copies worldwide.

Winners and short list nominees[edit]

Final Fantasy at the Polaris Music Prize gala in 2006
Patrick Watson at the Polaris Music Prize gala in 2007
Caribou at the Polaris Music Prize gala in 2008
Fucked Up at the Polaris Music Prize gala in 2009
Karkwa at the Polaris Music Prize gala in 2010
Arcade Fire at the Polaris Music Prize gala in 2011
Feist at the Polaris Music Prize gala in 2012
Year Winner Shortlisted Nominees & Albums[12][12][12][13][14][15][16][17]
2006 Final FantasyHe Poos Clouds
2007 Patrick WatsonClose to Paradise
2008 CaribouAndorra
2009 Fucked UpThe Chemistry of Common Life
2010 KarkwaLes Chemins de verre
2011 Arcade FireThe Suburbs
2012 FeistMetals
2013 Godspeed You! Black Emperor'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
2014 Tanya Tagaq - Animism

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Frere-Jones, Shasha (2009-09-22). "The Prize That Dare Not Speak Its Name". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  2. ^ a b Molotkow, Alexandra (2010-10-01). "The Indie Rock Swindle". The Walrus. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  3. ^ "2011 Polaris Music Prize Long List announced". aux.tv, June 16, 2011.
  4. ^ http://www.aux.tv/2012/07/polaris-music-prize-an-oral-history-as-told-by-its-founders-jurors-and-winners/
  5. ^ McLean, Steve (2006-06-02). "The Polaris Music Prize Will Go To Canada's Best Album". Chart. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  6. ^ Wheeler, Brad (2010-10-01). "Should it be called the Polaris ‘Indie’ Music Prize?". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  7. ^ Frere-Jones, Shasha (2009-09-22). "The Prize That Dare Not Speak Its Name". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  8. ^ Here and Now, September 22, 2014.
  9. ^ Finn, Brad (1 September 2010). "Should it be called the Polaris ‘Indie’ Music Prize?". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 
  10. ^ "Predicting Polaris: Picking Canada's Best Album". Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  11. ^ Sindrey, Curtis (19 September 2012). "Toronto music journalists debate 2012 Polaris Music Prize short-list on eve of gala". Aesthetic Magazine, Toronto. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c "Indie favourites among finalists for Polaris Music Prize". CBC News. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2010-11-21. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Feist, Fire get Polaris noms". Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  14. ^ Love, Noah (2007-07-10). "Arcade Fire, Feist And The Dears Among Polaris Nominees". Chart. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  15. ^ "Polaris Prize short list unveiled". CBC News. 2010-07-06. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  16. ^ "Polaris Music Prize Rolls Out 2011 Short List". Exclaim! Magazine. 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  17. ^ "Polaris Music Prize 2013 Short List Is Here". Polaris Music Prize. 2013-07-16. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 

External links[edit]