The Mercury Prize is back – but don’t expect an awards show…

The UK’s prestigious Mercury Prize is partnering with its old broadcasting ally the BBC this year – but it looks like the music industry won’t need to put its glad rags on.

Industry lovers of dauphinoise and dainty little chocolates on slates, look away now…

One of the key draws of the Mercury Prize to execs each year – an October/November awards ceremony at which the nominated 12 finalists play live – appears to have been scrapped by Mercury organisers.

Interestingly, the arm of the BBC now looking after the Mercury Prize 2015, BBC Music, also runs its own awards bash, The BBC Music Awards.

This event, which MBW can confirm will return for a second outing in 2015, took place on Thursday, December 11 at London’s Earls Court last year.

That was just six weeks after the Mercurys were held at London’s Roundhouse, won by Scottish trio Young Fathers (pictured).

Over the course of 23 years, the Mercury Prize, formerly the Mercury Music Prize, has established a reputation as one of the must-attend events of the Transatlantic industry calender.

The Beeb has promised that this year’s winner will be announced at an event on Friday, 20 November – which will be televised on BBC Four and broadcast on BBC Radio 6 Music.

However, it is yet to confirm how many people will be in the room for this announcement, or whether any acts will play.

In a statement, the Beeb said: “2015 will see the Prize move away from its traditional Awards Show event to work with the BBC to deliver even greater reach and more premium quality music content.”

What we do know is that the BBC is promising “an eclectic series of broadcasts” for the Mercurys across “the BBC’s radio and digital platforms… showcasing the Mercury Prize 2015 Albums of the Year through a series of studio sessions featuring this year’s shortlisted artists”.

“2015 will see the mercury prize move away from its traditional awards show event.”

BBC Statement

This year the Prize jointly falls under the jurisdiction of BBC Music and the BPI, the trade body in charge of the BRIT Awards.

MBW has followed up with both the BPI and the BBC. We were told: “Production plans are underway, but more details about the exact nature of the TV content and wider BBC programming will be announced nearer the time… the BBC Music Awards on BBC One remains.”

Proceedings kick off tomorrow (Thursday, July 9), when labels can nominate albums for inclusion.

The shortlist of 12 Albums of the Year will be unveiled exclusively on BBC Radio 6 Music on Friday 16 October.

Bob Shennan, Director of BBC Music, said: “From burgeoning new talent to global superstars, BBC Music celebrates and supports British music on every scale and form, so a partnership with the esteemed Mercury Prize is a natural and exciting fit.

“Our programming will reflect the diversity of the Prize and will feature performances and interviews from the 12 shortlisted acts.”

Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor for BBC Four, said: “I’m delighted the Mercury Prize in association with BBC Music will feature on BBC Four, the home of music television at the BBC.”

Dan Ford, Mercury Prize Managing Director, said: “The announcement of this extensive BBC partnership and support from the BPI and the wider music community is an exciting first step in the development of a new long-term vision for the Mercury Prize that will help to ensure and extend its relevance to a new generation of music fans for years to come.

“As the Prize approaches its landmark 25th anniversary, it is increasingly important that we work with broadcast partners and music organisations that share our passion for the award’s values in order to help us achieve the broadest possible reach and profile.”

Lauren Laverne, BBC Radio 6 Music presenter, said: “I have a long history with the Mercury Prize and couldn’t be happier to be involved with it in 2015 as it returns to the BBC as a part of BBC Music. It’s a fantastic celebration of Britain’s vibrant, diverse music scene.”

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said: “The Mercury Prize is an important part of our cultural landscape, recognising and celebrating the finest British and Irish albums released every year, regardless of genre, fashion or commercial success – it’s the Man Booker or Turner Prize for music.

The BPI is passionate about supporting new British music, and having helped to establish the Prize in 1992, we’re delighted to be working with the Mercury Prize team alongside BBC Music and the wider music community to help develop its long-term future.”Music Business Worldwide

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