Tasman Keith Calls Out ARIA Awards Voting System
The rapper, a Gumbaynggirr man from New South Wales, took to Instagram to reveal that his acclaimed debut album, A Colour Undone, didn’t meet the voting criteria for either Best Hip Hop Release or Album of the Year. “I’m content with no nomination – I was aware of this weeks ago,” he insisted.
Keith, however, claimed a “discussion needs to be had at ARIA and across the entire industry.”
“The criteria is still structured mainly around a system which upweights physical formats and downloads. Not streams,” he wrote.
“My validation doesn’t come from an outdated award platform held up by privileged white record executives who’s entire purpose is to sell our stories while keeping majority of the profits. However, my mission has always been to occupy all of these spaces and in doing so represent for my community.”
As Keith explained, “artists should have the same opportunity in these moments as those with the big budget.”
“Judge the art, not chart. Especially when the charting criteria is still based on an outdated system. Being performative and providing the same playing field for those that suffer the affects of systemic oppression are two different things.”
He concluded: “ARIA needs to evolve. The system isn’t set up for the small town mission kid, it’s set up for the big label white man. And as a First Nations person I shouldn’t need to change the system to simply be acknowledge by it, that’s been the problem with Australia.”
After several well-received EPs, Keith finally released his debut album, A Colour Undone, in July. The album received strong reviews, with The Australian hailing it as a “stunning debut from a formidable voice in Australian hip-hop.”
In a statement, an ARIA spokesperson said the following: “It has always been ARIA’s mission to create opportunities for Australian music to be heard in all its forms, by all those who create it. The ARIA Awards are a celebration of the best performing artists and music from each year, whose eligibility criteria is annually reviewed by members to ensure fair and equal representation, as evidenced by the independent artists who comprise 73% of this year’s eligible entries.”