Playback: Revamping the Austin Music Poll

Here's how Playback's voting

Photos by John Anderson and David Brendan Hall

As you read this, Chronicle staffers are poring over 20 years of online Austin Music Poll results for evidence of Russian interference. Meanwhile, a special counsel’s been appointed to investigate ties between 2016/17 Musician of the Year winner Hayes Carll and the Kremlin. Neither probe has yielded any impeachable evidence at this time.

Whatever the outcome, the governing body behind the Austin Music Awards has already begun implementing election reform. In an attempt to quell hostility between two rebel camps – hard-line music snobs demanding Grammy-like nominations and a populist wing insisting that the tradition of entirely write-in ballots be preserved – a compromise employing both philosophies has been reached.

The Austin Music Poll voting process now begins with a round of "primaries."

From today until Dec. 11, John and Jane Q. Public can write in their favorite bands and businesses in all 57 categories. As always. Upon the poll's close, that data will be tabulated and top vote-getters, combined with selections from a governing board of industry vets – who Alex Jones will soon denounce as a secret society of globalist elite – will emerge as the first-ever Austin Music Poll nominations. That leads into a final round of voting, Jan. 5-22, wherein Austin makes selections from the nominees in every category.


Winning musicians hoist their plaques up inside ACL Live at the Moody Theater on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, the first time the AMAs have preceded South by Southwest in over three decades. Charlie Sexton returns for the fourth season of his ill-advised 99-year contract as music director of the AMAs and already has some legendary performances in the works. Meanwhile, "Playback" has supplied the Berkshire Hounds with their show advance – Chili's gift cards and a 24-pack of Lone Star – to secure the locals as the house band for our Austin Music Industry Awards on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Palm Door, where the worker bees of Austin music are honored.

So why tweak the voting after 36 years of write-in polling? Because for all the triumphs of internet platforms (see the Pizza Tracker function on the Domino's app), online voting has become a bastion for scammers, trolls, and artists who are far better at social media finagling than creating great art. Old-fashioned "ballot stuffing" has evolved into the utilization of professional vote-buying services and deluded cover bands sponsoring Facebook ads imploring people to vote for them in every category. There needs to be better oversight to keep it legit.

The AMAs were created to mean something more than a popularity contest. They're designed to reflect the quality and diversity of Austin's music scene. When an artist's bio lists them as an AMA winner that should mean something. Most of all, though, community awards are about love – acknowledgment of an artist's cultural contribution. Now's the time for you to tell us and the whole city who you value.

Here's my primary ballot. Now, in the interests of transparency, I should point out that I have a historically low batting average with any of my picks actually winning awards. In fact, having my vote may actually lower an act's chances. Not so of yours. Collectively, you pick the winners.

So fill out a first-round ballet today. Here's one example:

Band of the Year: A Giant Dog

Best New Band: Plax

Musician of the Year: Thor Harris

Song of the Year: "Currency," Black Angels

Album of the Year: Some Part of Something, Whiskey Shivers

Rock: Hikes

Punk: US Weekly

Metal: Krigblast

Electronic: Bill Converse

Hip-Hop/Rap: Magna Carda

Jazz: Church on Monday

Blues/Soul/Funk: Shinyribs

Avant-Garde/Experimental: Dallas Acid

Country/Bluegrass: Croy & the Boys

Folk: Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay

Latin: Brownout

World Music: Hard Proof

Cover Band/Tribute Band: Doom Side of the Moon

U-18 (Majority of members are under 18): Charlie Belle

None of the Above: Octopus Project

Female Vocalist: Molly Burch

Male Vocalist: Walker Lukens

Guitar: Redd Volkaert

Bass: Ingebrigt Håker Flaten

Drums: Barry "Frosty" Smith (R.I.P.)

Keyboards: Survive

String Players: Ruby Jane

Horn Player(s): Ephraim Owens

Miscellaneous Instrument: Indrajit Banerjee, sitar

Songwriter: Adam Torres

Radio Station: KUTX

Radio Music Program: A Hill Country Saturday, Kevin Connor for Sun Radio

Radio Personality: Jody Denberg, KUTX

Record Store: Breakaway Records

Music Store: Austin Vintage Guitars

Instrument Repair: Lauren Ellis for Strait Music

Specialty Instrument Store: Switched On Music Electronics

Equipment Rental: Rock n Roll Rentals

Recording Studio: King Electric Recording Co.

Producer: Stuart Sikes

Local Label: Super Secret

Music Writer: Kahron Spearman

Live Music Photographer: David Brendan Hall

Poster Artist: Billie Buck

Album Art: American Neon, Protextor & Brother Bear

New Club: Electric Church

Live Music Venue: Mohawk

Live Music Booker: Jason McNeely (Barracuda/Hotel Vegas)

Club Lighting: Empire Control Room

Club Sound: Cactus Cafe

Best Music Venue to Play: Lost Well

Ongoing Music Residency: Monte Warden & the Dangerous Few, Continental Club Gallery, Thursdays

Music Support Nonprofit: HAAM

Music Business Hall of Fame: Craig Stewart of Emperor Jones Records/South by Southwest

Hall of Fame: Fuckemos, Bavu Blakes

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Austin Music Poll 2017 / 2018, Austin Music Awards 2017 / 2018

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