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Live and kicking: Music Awards will still make a noise in Brisbane


After hosting its gala presentation at Brisbane venue The Triffid for the past two years, the organisers of the National Live Music Awards have announced the event will return to the River City in 2020.

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The news follows yesterday’s announcement that BIGSOUND, Australia’s biggest music industry and showcase, will proceed on October 21-22, with the NLMAs, which are traditionally held in December, scheduled to take place the night before.

The NLMAs, now in their fifth year, are Australia’s only awards dedicated to contemporary live music performance, and recognise the diversity and success of the nation’s live artists and industry workers across a range of categories, from vocal talents and live instrumentation to events, festivals and venues.

Founder and director of the NLMAs, Larry Heath, told InQueensland the board had considered “just canning the awards this year”, but quickly decided that despite the challenges Australia’s live music has faced this year, there were still plenty of achievements were recognising.

“When we started looking around at the industry, we really saw how so many people were stepping up, whether it’s Emily Ulman doing Isol-Aid, or the Delivered Live programming that Leigh Treweek was doing, and it’s impressive, and you realise that there’s actually a lot to celebrate,” he said.

In previous years, the NLMAs, which also have state-specific categories, have hosted eight concurrent events in states and territories across the country, but Heath said the Brisbane gala would be the sole event this year.

“Brisbane has become the home of the event, and it made sense to have it there this year anyway, and when we got in touch with QMusic and found out what their plans were for BIGSOUND, we decided we decided to move the event up to October,” he said.

The NLMAs have been streaming the event live online for the past three years, and Heath said this would be the case again this year, and with travel and social restrictions likely to still be in place, he said there would be a large focus on showcasing Queensland-based artists this year.

“We will be keeping the host local, keeping the presenters local and keeping the performers local, that’s going be really important to ensure the event happens, so we’re going to see a very Brisbane and Queensland-centric national Live Music Awards,” he said.

He said the NLMAs were also prepared for the possibility that social restrictions may change in the coming month, but said organisers’ past experience with live-streaming meant “the event will be going ahead regardless”.

“We will livestream it without an audience if we have to and if the audience is there we will be live streaming it as well, so, we will be engaging with the rest of the country – and the world –  with the live stream, and we’re still finalising exactly what the details on that will be, because we’re working with a new technology partner this year.”

Many of awards that have been presented in previous years – particularly in some state-specific categories – won’t be handed out at this year’s event, due in large part to the difficulties of recognising an industry that has unable to tour for half of the eligibility period.

But Heath said in addition to the national gongs, there would also be several special achievement awards that would be presented to recognise the contributions many in the industry have made since social restrictions came into place in March.

“For the artist awards, their performances online and in-person will be both considered and it’s important to note that the nomination period is from the beginning of September to the end of August, so half of that period was business as usual.

“We’ll be doing a run of special achievement awards, which are going to be announced in advance. They’re not competitive awards, they will just recognise people, organisations or initiatives for their work during the pandemic of really propping up the industry at a time where it needed it the most.”

Queensland singer and musician Katie Noonan, who is a member of the NLMAs board, said she was excited the awards would be returning to Brisbane this year, saying “the magic of a live show has never been more pertinent”.

“We are all desperately missing the visceral experience of sharing sounds with – and for  – other humans,” she said.

“Aussies make the best live music in the world and we are super proud to be continuing to celebrate this through the fifth annual National Live Music Awards.”

Industry nominations are now open for this year’s National Live Music awards, with nominations set to close on August 12.  Finalists for the judge-based categories will be announced on September 7, with voting for the public categories to commence the same day. For more information, visit

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