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Finalists revealed for the 16th annual AMP

Media Published Monday 1 February 2021
Image credits: Emma Donovan / Michelle Grace Hunder; Tame Impala / Matt Sav; Ziggy Ramo / Emma Pegrum

Nine finalists are revealed, with one winner to take home $20,000

APRA AMCOS is a proud sponsor of the prestigious award

Powerful voices and sonic brains have proven to be two major standouts of The AMP’s final nine this year


Returning for its 16th year, the prestigious SoundMerch Australian Music Prize (The AMP) has revealed its official Shortlist today. From a list of 88 albums nominated by the judges during 2020, a nationwide cohort of respected music industry experts has deliberated and narrowed the numbers down to a list of nine finalists, whose creativity has produced some of the best Australian releases of the year.

This year’s SoundMerch Australian Music Prize shortlist represents a wide and diverse pool of talent from right around the country. Music that has had a significant impact not just at home in Australia, but internationally, garnering acclaim from fans new and old alike around the world. 2020 shortlist celebrates some incredible debut releases including Miiesha’s soulful Nyaaringu and Ziggy Ramo’s powerful Black Thoughts, as well as career-defining touchstones in Tame Impala’s fourth studio album The Slow Rush, Fanny Lumsden’s Fallow, and The Avalanches’ expansive third record, We Will Always Love You.

“We’re so very chuffed to have made the shortlist for the Australian Music Prize. To sit amongst all the previous nominees and so many truly great albums is a real honour. Thank you!” The Avalanches

In a year where the music industry experienced unprecedented struggles and challenges, the music that has been produced throughout and as a result of these times has demonstrated the resilience and power in the craft, and those artists behind it.

“I held onto Black Thoughts for five years because I didn’t think there was a place for it in the Australian music industry. I was shocked when it was shortlisted, not because I didn’t think it was deserving, I just didn’t know if people were ready to hear it. I had zero expectations when I put Black Thoughts out and am truly humbled that people have resonated with it. Thank you to the Australian Music Prize for not only the nomination but more importantly, for listening.” Ziggy Ramo

For the carefully selected panel of judges, featuring respected music tastemakers, retailers, media, and fellow artists, sitting with these albums over the summer has been a process of labour and love.

With so many different sounds and modes of storytelling flourishing across these albums, their final list of nominees is one they are incredibly proud of. Powerful voices and sonic brains have proven to be two major standouts of The AMP’s final nine this year. Genres meet each other on this list where they may not be on others; Alice Ivy’s dynamic record Don’t Sleep sits alongside the raw power of Emma Donovan and The Putbacks’ Crossover. The uplifting tempos and sheer energy of Gordon Koang’s Unity meet the sprawling, visceral nature of Blake Scott’s debut album Niscitam.

“It’s such an honour - for both me and The Putbacks - to see this album included in this major prize. The songs represented on this album are not only a capsule of personal stories, but are a preservation and celebration of two of the country’s national traditional languages. We thank our passionate listeners for sharing our music.” Emma Donovan

“I’m a little overwhelmed that Fallow, songs I wrote in a season of personal change and released through a storm, have found such a silver lining. It’s a complete honour to be included in the top nine albums of the year for an award that has such integrity.” Fanny Lumsden

The winner of The AMP for 2020 will receive a $20,000 cash prize, courtesy of SoundMerch. Thanks to the industry support from long term champions of The AMP, including APRA AMCOS and Mushroom Group, the prize continues to exist not just to celebrate the album as a respected format, but to recognise and celebrate our thriving nation of musicians and their original work.

Scott Murphy, SoundMerch Australian Music Prize Director: “The feedback directly from artists who released albums in 2020 has been quite incredible; much praise for us being able to keep The AMP alive in a year that wasn’t alive in so many ways. It could not have been done without the help of long term industry friends, especially APRA and the Mushroom Group, whose financial support remained intact for the 16th year. Of course, it was amazing that during these times, long-term AMP partner SoundMerch stepped up their support of the industry and are going to pay the winner a $20,000 cash prize! Congratulations to our nine shortlisted artists on their incredible work.”

Inspired by the UK’s coveted Mercury Prize, The AMP has previously recognised works from artists including Sampa The Great, Gurrumul, The Drones, Courtney Barnett, A.B. Original, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and will announce the latest artist to join this esteemed list of winners in March.

The Soundmerch Australian Music Prize finalists

  • Alice Ivy - Don’t Sleep
  • The Avalanches - We Will Always Love You
  • Blake Scott - Niscitam
  • Emma Donovan and The Putbacks - Crossover
  • Fanny Lumsden - Fallow
  • Gordon Koang - Unity
  • Miiesha - Nyaaringu
  • Tame Impala - The Slow Rush
  • Ziggy Ramo - Black Thoughts