Imagine, for a second, that a controversy so huge hit The Grammys earlier this year that its organizers were forced to scrap the entire ceremony forever more.
These are the extraordinary events which have unfurled in the German music industry today, after local trade body BVMI announced that the annual Echo Awards are being axed.
The decision follows a nationwide outcry over rap duo Kollegah and Farid Bang, who collected an Echo Award in Berlin earlier this month (April 12) for the top-selling album of 2017 – Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3.
Some of the lyrics on that album, including references to Auschwitz prisoners and the Holocaust, have caused uproar in Germany, with many accusing the pair of anti-Semitic content.
BMG, the distributor of the record, has since cut all ties with the duo.
The Echo Awards – the German equivalent of The Grammys or The BRITs – have been held in Germany for the past 26 years.
In a statement issued earlier today (April 24), the BVMI said that, following an “extraordinary meeting in Berlin”, The Echos would no longer exist.
“[We] do not want this music prize to be perceived as a platform for anti-Semitism, contempt for women, homophobia or the blurring of violence [following] what happened around this year’s [event].”
“[We] do not want this music prize to be perceived as a platform for anti-Semitism, contempt for women, homophobia or the blurring of violence [following] what happened around this year’s [event], for which the Board has apologized,” said the body in a statement.
The BMVI confirmed that the main Echo event, in addition to sister events Echo Klassik and Echo Jazz, required a “complete new beginning”, which would involve a new singular structure to oversee all three events.
The existing bodies involved in organising the Echo Awards will “cease their activities”, said the BVMI – although it said that Germany “continues to need music awards” to showcase talent in the country.
The Echo advisory board (often referred to as “ethics commission”) has been heavily criticized in the German mainstream media for its decision not to exclude Kollegah and Farid Bang’s album from the 2018 nominations.
Kollegah and Farid Bang also performed on stage at this year’s event, with many decrying the fact that the Echos courted controversy at the expense of offending a huge TV audience.
Any relaunched awards event would require more influence from a critical jury, said the BVMI – a response to the fact that commercial success heavily influenced in the formula which determined Kollegah and Farid Bang’s win.
The BVMI said the “Executive Board will take the necessary time to make the changes more concrete”, with a workshop scheduled for June to take the next steps.Music Business Worldwide