My Bloody Valentine main-man Kevin Shields has only just realised that the annual music industry back-slapping event known as the Mercury Music Prize is actually a little bit corporate.
In an interview with the Guardian, Shields complained about the prizes criteria which excluded My Bloody Valentine’s latest album mbv from being nominated. The Mercury Prize is limited to albums that had “a digital and physical distribution deal in place in the UK”, and as mbv was self-released independently it’s not eligible to be nominated for this years award.
Isn’t Mercury a phone company or something, anyway? What’s that got to do with music? We’re banned by them, and do you know why? Because we’re not on Amazon or iTunes. That’s one of the qualifying criteria. You have to have major distribution or be on iTunes or Amazon.
He went on:
We released our record, mbv, independently. It’s interesting to learn that to be as independent as we are is … virtually illegal. It’s not a real record. Our album’s not a real album because it’s independent. The corporate-ness has got to such a point where we’ve essentially been told that we don’t exist. So, technically, that album doesn’t exist. OK? It’s not allowed to exist according to the Mercury prize.
It’s surprising that Shields has only just realised that the Mercury Prize is a corporate award. It’s very origins lie in the need for the music industry to gee up a bit of coverage and attention and provide nominated albums with a new marketing hook to boosts sales numbers. All this comes across as sour grapes from Shields, who obviously thinks mbv deserves a bit of extra credit.