After handing a top award to a rap group who vowed to ‘make another Holocaust’, German music industry association BVMI is shutting down the International ECHO Awards. That’s like the Grammys getting cancelled in the US.
On April 12th, Germany handed its top hip-hop award to Kollegah and Farid Bang, a duo with anti-Semitic lyrics. That prompted a wave of protests, with many artists returning their awards. Protests are now surfacing in response to the award, especially since the organizer of the ECHO Awards, the Bundesverband Musikindustrie, or BVMI, refused to rescind the trophy.
That group has now taken the extreme decision to shut down the ECHOs. For a bit of perspective, that’s almost like the US shuttering the Grammys — forever. Accordingly. here’s the official statement issued this morning by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie. It has been translated from German.
The ‘ECHO’ will not exist anymore.
The decision was made by the board of the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI) yesterday in an extraordinary meeting in Berlin. The ECHO was for many years a great prize, and at the same time, a central industry event with many moving moments and outstanding artists.
The board strongly believes that Germany, as the third largest music market in the world, continues to need music awards to inspire artists, genres, and future generations. However, they do not want this music prize to be perceived as a platform for anti-Semitism, contempt for women, homophobia, or violence. This is what happened around this year’s ECHO, for which the Board has apologized.
The ECHO brand was so badly damaged that a completely new beginning is necessary, which also entails a realignment of divisions ECHO Klassik and ECHO Jazz. Already, the Board is taking some initial, concrete steps, with all three prizes transferred into a completely different structure.
“The ECHO brand was so badly damaged that a completely new beginning is necessary…”
As part of this transfer, the groups involved will suspend their activities. The nomination and award criteria are being completely changed. As with the ECHO Klassik and ECHO Jazz awards, which have always been jury prizes instead of chart-based, a jury will also focus more on the new music prize for pop music as well.
The Executive Board will take the necessary time to make the changes more concrete. With the declared goal of designing the new prize in the interests of all artists and the entire industry, there will be a workshop in June to include as many ideas and expectations from the industry as possible. At the same time, the BVMI has already approached institutions to help shape the socially necessary debate on the freedom of the arts and its borders.
Detailed information on jazz and classical awards will follow shortly. The jazz awards will be presented on May 31st in Hamburg in a smaller circle, without TV production. The focus is on the artists and their music.