As an extreme supporter of the MAMA's I wanted to weigh in as well. I think the points being brought up here are spot on. I look at things a bit differently though.
The MAMA award show itself is a great party, the first time I went was last year and I was simply blown away at the talent and musical diversity Madison has, from young to old. It was a great show, period. I went again this year and the same thing- a great party with great musical acts. I was blown away by Lords of the Trident. A band I'd never think to see, but will be checking them out more in the future. I've been lucky enough to perform at the MAMA's and i'm still amazed at how many people it takes to make this show happen. It's a huge undertaking and I love hearing that people respect Rick so much for what he's done, he deserves it ten fold. There are a lot more people behind Rick that help him make this wonderful event happen that never get mentioned as well.
The biggest thing I commend him for is all the criticism and analyzing he takes from us musicians, but he always listens. As an artist I find it very hard to listen to some people when they go off on tangents of supposed knowledge, yet Rick listens year after year and makes changes based off of what people are saying.
The fact he was able to secure sponsorship to due away with all the nominations fees in our economic climate is worth all the praise in world. People complained of that issue for years, Rick listened and worked his magic to secure the money to make that happen. Kudos to all the sponsors.
It's been said many times here, it's simple, awards shows will always be about popularity but I still believe the winners are just as talented as the losers and i'm sure most of the winners would say the same thing. At a certain point- all bands are equal in talent. It's impossible to say one band is better then the next and the easiest thing to judge a band on is popularity because in music- that's what it takes to succeed.
I believe popularity is a great way to judge a band, it's all encompassing. It takes into account music ability, marketing power, crowd draw, stage presence, buzz, songwriting and the list goes on. Ultimately I believe as a musician that is what we are judged on- if we are popular we win awards, we get more money at shows, we sell more merch., we get more fans. It's simple the most popular bands can do all of those things very well.
Lucas and Frank are friends of mine and I know how hard they work at music and the music business. They play over 150 shows a year, driving to the far reaches of the country, living in a van, sleeping on strangers floors all to play the music they love for people that enjoy it. Their fan base is huge but that's because they work at it. They work hard to get their fans and I would find it insulting to ask these kinds of bands to "just give other bands a shot" just because.
I agree with the statement about genre specific problems. Me being part of a blues/rock band would never try and win a punk rock category and I do think the MAMA panel will take a look at this as opinions are voiced.
I also think the diversity in the artists that are winning is much greater now. The years of one artist taking home 10+ awards are over. There must have been over 50 awards awarded at the show and I believe the most won by one artist was 6.
I hope that people keep supporting the cause and if you aren't into awards- come to the actual show next year. It's a great time to see some stellar local bands and get a chance to talk with your fellow musicians. It's a great community out there.