The Brag Media ▼
News August 28, 2020

Virtual 2020 NIMAs go global, clock-up best-ever ratings: Go behind the scenes

Senior Journalist, B2B
Virtual 2020 NIMAs go global, clock-up best-ever ratings: Go behind the scenes

The year 2020 has been tough on everyone, dire for some. But in challenging times, there are often bright spots and opportunities. The National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs), beamed out on August 8th, has been one those highlights.

Produced in partnership with NITV, the 2020 NIMAs reached a wider audience than ever before, thanks to its free-to-air television broadcast and a raft of streaming partnerships, from Double J and National Indigenous Radio Service broadcasters on terrestrial radio and several social channels.

The virtual ceremony aired again last Sunday, August 16th, on SBS Viceland.

By the numbers, MusicNT’s annual ceremony enjoyed its biggest year to-date. Easily. 

The 2020 TV audience grew 138% compared with last year’s edition, as Baker Boy took out three categories and viewers were treated to the world premiere of Midnight Oil’s new single ‘Gadigal Land’ with an all-star cast.

Check out Midnight Oil’s ‘Gadigal Land’ featuring Dan Sultan, Joel Davison, Kaleena Briggs & Bunna Lawrie:

More than a quarter-million music fans engaged with the NIMAs just on Facebook alone. Across the campaign “our reach was in the millions,” explains SGC Group Managing Director Stephen Green, whose publicity team worked closely on this year’s programme.

Across all platforms, the NIMAs posted impressive year-on-year bursts. More than 137,800 watched across Facebook, Instagram and NITV, The Industry Observer can exclusively reveal. 

Breaking that down, the NITV saw a 138% lift in total audience, versus the 2019 ceremony, with a 624% spike in the 16-39 age group.

Across the main social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), the 2020 event enjoyed 181% lift in audience, with strong gains in total impressions (95.9%) and total engagement (189%).

Facebook (total engagement up 176% and total reach up 481.83%) and Instagram (total impressions up 496% and total engagement up 355%) punched particularly hard.

National Indigenous Music Awards: By the numbers

Delivering a remote awards show with countless moving parts aren’t expected to be drama-free. This year’s NIMAs wasn’t without its challenges.

Behind the scenes, the NIMAs team had to cover late line-up and crew changes, those problems that haunt the dreams of TV producers the world over.

Blame the pandemic.

The finished product, however, was seamless.

For the very first time, the NIMAs welcomed a 100% First Nations camera crew for the production as well as a majority First Nations production crew as it moves towards “a path of First Nations self-determination,” reads a statement.

The Industry Observer caught up with some of the key players behind this year’s special event. 

TIO: You had a late change with one of the hosts unable to fulfil his duties. How did you resolve that?

Ben Graetz, Creative Director, 2020 NIMAs: Yes, due to Brisbane’s border closures because to Covid, we were unable to fly in our guest MC Steven Oliver.

Luckily I knew the show so well and was able to jump in at the last minute. Also I’ve known our co-host MC Elaine Crombie for many years, so that was important, as we were able to bounce off each other really easily.

Can you walk me through the process of scrapping the ceremony and pivoting to a virtual show? Was there a moment when you considered shutting it down for the year and did you learn from others virtual ceremonies, like the APRAs?

Mark Smith, Executive Director MusicNT: We made a decision quite early on to move this year’s awards to a broadcast format.

For us internally there was a never a moment where we thought that we won’t have an event as we really wanted to not have another cancellation and also lose the opportunity to recognise the achievements of First Nations musicians at this time.

The other consideration is the NT was very forward in locking itself down due to the vulnerable populations in regional and remote areas so the idea of a public event was a risk we weren’t comfortable taking as well as the likelihood we wouldn’t be able to access artists at the time of the event.

From that decision there were moments when we did think about hosting some form of public event but came back to just committing all our energy into one format rather than potentially compromising across a live and broadcast event.

We had discussions with APRA around the process for their awards as well as following how other events were engaging in that space. There was a strong desire to maintain as much “live” element as we could and also really engage with remote and regional communities as part of the event which led us to not pre-recording all of the program.

There were hurdles right to the end when we first lost our Sydney NITV crew when the NT closed borders to parts of NSW and then one week out we lost one MC, the director and two camera crew when Brisbane closed.

The last week was enacting back up plan over back up plan but we had anticipated this happening and as much as it made it more stressful we could still deliver the event.

Baker Boy

What were the big challenges in creating an awards ceremony amid a pandemic?

Stephen Green, SGC Group Managing Director: The biggest challenge for us with the pandemic was probably to look at the opportunities that presented themselves as well as the complications. I’m lucky that our role is to get the word out, not to have to deal with the logistics of how it comes together, so from a messaging point of view, having the big Darwin event no longer there gave us the chance to really focus on the national significance of the event and Indigenous music more generally.

SGC’s digital agency For The Record was also tasked with looking after social and digital media for the first time this year which gave us a real opportunity to integrate the media amplification with those digital channels. The joy of working with something like the NIMAs is that we are able to bring media outlets together when there otherwise might sometimes be commercial rivalries.

As such we had amazing partnerships with NITV, Double J, NIRS, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Apple, Spotify and many more.

Without fail, every single partner approached it with the goal of making the biggest noise possible for the event with no hint of ego anywhere. It’s these kinds of things that really bring out the best in us as an industry. And the results speak for themselves.

Our TV audience grew year on year 138%, over 250,000 people engaged with us on Facebook alone and across the campaign our reach was in the millions. Our PR reach was four times higher year on year, despite competing with a national pandemic.

The NIMAs were embraced this year more than ever because amplifying First Nations voices needs to be on the national agenda and people understand that. They were also embraced because people NEED some good news and something to celebrate. And ultimately I think the awards are getting credit for running headlong into the storm because it’s what was needed, when it would have been easier to just cancel for the year.

It’s when you get your coffee in the morning and the barista asks you what you did on the weekend and when you mention the NIMAs they say “Oh yeah is that that thing that Baker Boy won?”. That’s when you know you got things right.

Graetz: I think the biggest challenge was to go from a live concert structure into a 100% virtual and TV broadcast format. Live theatre and events are my specialty so I had to learn very quickly how to work in this new way.

And the biggest result?

Graetz: The biggest result was to be able to share these awards with a much bigger audience virtually and via NITV. It was the highest viewing the awards have ever had and that makes me really proud.

How did the nominees and performers respond when they heard it was going all-digital? And going global?

Smith: Really positively for the most part. When we started to contact artists many were in various stages of lockdown and had also been unable to work for a period of time so there was a strong sense of wanting to be involved.

The first thoughts for this year’s event were that since we were virtual it was a real chance to be national in reach and inclusion.

Including artists from across the country both as performers but also to be part of the event through interviews and at live sites was something we hadn’t been able to do in previous years but are definitely looking to continue in the future.

What features were created especially for the live stream to ensure First Nations culture was at the forefront?

Graetz: We ensured we partnered with the right channels including NITV, National Indigenous Radio Services, TEABA just to name a few. Plus we partnered with remote community centres to include a truly national voice, visibility and national reach.

I am also proud to have been the first Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Creative Director to have led this year’s awards, bringing our culture and people to the forefront.

Presumably the webcasting element creates more international opportunities for the artists? With the livestream success across various partners, will this element play a bigger part alongside a traditional NIMAs in years to come?

Green: Absolutely. The comms agenda of the NIMAs over the last three years has been about using the NIMA brand as a vehicle to amplify First Nations music in whatever way we can and the evolution of the NIMAs from being a live event to being so much more is just a part of that.

We started the National Indigenous Music Chart 18 months ago as a way to be able to keep the conversation going across the whole year and now with the increased digital presence year-round as well, we’re going to be able to use the assets that the NIMAs has built up to create amplification opportunities for artists, not just in August each year.

Awards are very important, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg that the NIMAs are there to support. With year-round engagement, we can provide so many more opportunities to so many more artists and the same mindset is being brought to the awards themselves.

The heart and spirit of the NIMAs will always be sitting out under the stars at the Darwin Amphitheatre, but this year has proven more than ever that there’s a massive national audience that can join that spirit regardless of where they are physically.

There were so many people on the stream checking in from all over the world and it was really great to see. For me personally, the success of this year opens up so many ideas and possibilities, whether that be increased opportunities in the digital space, connecting more closely with First Nations communities from across the world or looking at additional physical events in other parts of the country that can come together to create the NIMAs.

To me, it’s not about online or offline, it’s about connection and community and if we can find ways to replicate the feeling you get when you’re sitting under the stars in the Darwin amphitheatre in any form, then that’s what the NIMAs could and should be.

So many of the featured artists at the NIMAs have emerged as mainstream artists, or are right there. Baker Boy, Jess Mauboy, Thelma Plum, Dan Sultan and others bring real star power. Are we looking at a “golden generation” of First Nations and Indigenous artists?

Smith: It might be just audiences catching up again with the amazing music from this country.

In the past we have had the global success of Yothu Yindi, Warumpi band and more, songs that still resonate as strong as when they were first released. To now when some of the biggest artists in the country are First Nation and some of the most exciting new artists including Kid Laroi, Sycco and Allara are topping charts across the country and the world.

Replay the NIMAs on SBS On DemandYouTube, Facebook, or Twitter.
Stream the NIMA 2020 playlist on 
Apple Music or Spotify.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


Powered by
Looking to hire? List your vacancy today!

Related articles