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Bay Radio bars performers from playing during rival ceremonies
Contract bars Bay Music Awards performers from playing at the Malta Music Awards.
21 November 2011, 12:00am
The news, having spread on the local musical grapevine, has ruffled feathers amongst performers, who find the imposition to be an unfair one given the Maltese context, particularly when paired with an additional - though not strictly official - clause: that the musicians who do not comply with Bay's rule will be 'sidelined' for radio play in favour of bands who conform to the imposition.
"With Bay's arrogance, artists are being offered deals that they sometimes can't refuse, even when they know that the offer will limit their chances," Pawlu Borg Bonaci, member of local band Fakawi, said.
"This is unacceptable, especially when you take the size of our island - and its limitations - into consideration. Exclusivity can't be accepted anymore, not only in the awards but also in the charts. Artists and bands have to be free to choose how to promote their material... It's like feeding the same monster that eats you," Borg Bonaci, who is a co-founder of DOQQ, a local Facebook group set up to mobilise Maltese musicians to apply pressure on the authorities when it comes to issues such as the availability of live venues and other hardships local musicians face, added.
A musician who did not wish to be named claimed to have signed the said contract, but still remained ambivalent about Bay's decision.
"Bay are a private company and they can do what they want... but it doesn't mean I agree with them on this at all," the musician said in comments to MaltaToday. Regarding the issue of being sidelined for radio play, the musician said that Bay "politely" implied that other bands will be given preference over them if they decided to perform at another local musical awards ceremony taking place close to the Bay Music Awards.
However, the musician also said that the imposition stopped short of barring them from attending the ceremonies in question, and that if they were nominated for any awards in the rival ceremonies they were free to pick them up.
Expressing disappointment with the situation, Malta Music Awards co-organiser Noel Magri said that the Malta Music Awards - "which have been around for 16 years" - have never placed such impositions on musicians.
"We always leave the artists free to perform wherever they want, and we're very disappointed that certain performers gave in to Bay's threats - because that's what they are - threats," Magri said, adding that the Malta Music Awards, as an entity, has "genuine interests... we don't use the awards as a marketing tool to promote a radio station," also citing the fact that unlike the BMAs, the MMAs do not award artists based on a public sms voting system, but employ a panel of judges made up of various professionals.
In response, Kevin De Cesare, executive director at Eden Leisure Group (owners of Bay), said that the contract was devised as a way out of stretching artists too thin when the two ceremonies are scheduled so close to each other.
"You have to remember that the MMAs only came back into the scene two or three years ago," De Cesare said, claiming that the BMAs have occupied this winter spot over the past couple of years and describing the Bay Awards ceremony as "the MTV of Malta".
"We have been asking the MMAs to reschedule the show for several years in light of the fact that having two award ceremonies 10 days apart is simply not feasible in the local context, but they stubbornly refused each year. So this year we gave the musicians a simple choice: either choose us, or choose them."
"When you join a football team, you don't then also start playing with another team," De Cesare added.
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...