Juno Awards launch on-demand judging system

The Juno Awards are going digital.

While the ceremonies are still months away, the Canadian music awards show is set to open its judging process next month. But unlike previous years, where artists had to physically ship a dozen CD copies for each category they wanted to compete for, Juno organizers have simplified the process for both musicians and judges by implementing a digital distribution system.

Using Toronto-based Yangaroo Inc.’s Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS), Juno judges will now be able to access all music and related promotional materials via a hosted Web application. Additionally, artists and record labels will only have to send three CD copies of their work to Juno organizers at the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).

“The amount of physical work to gather all the CD submissions and sent them out to our 320 judges across Canada was tremendous,” Brenna Knought, manager of awards and special events at CARAS, said. “To give you an idea, we had a processing firm handling over 13,000 CD submissions.”

“It’s becoming a more digital world and people just aren’t producing as many CDs as they were before, so this really is a natural progression for us,” she added.

Once the system goes live later this month, CARAS staff members will begin to upload songs and albums to Yangaroo’s servers. Using DMDS, organizers will indicate which judges will be given access to which content. Judges will then be allowed to download the tracks, upload them to an iPod, and record their Juno selections directly on the system.

“It’s a matter of making things simpler for everyone,” Cliff Hunt, co-founder and COO at Yangaroo, said. “Plus it will save on all kinds of resources. CDs, as you know, are non-biodegradable.” The jet fuel needed deliver the submissions to judges across Canada was also a motivating factor for CARAS, he added.

Knought said that what set Yangaroo apart from the other providers CARAS had considered was its ability to secure and protect uploaded content. “They demonstrated a really high level of security with content encryption, watermarking and other measures to prevent file sharing,” she said. And along with protecting the music files, Yangaroo’s ability to host and stream full albums in CD quality was also a must, Knought said. “We like the idea to giving our judges the opportunity to listen to a full album in high quality to objectively make their decision,” she said.

Besides the costs savings for CARAS, Knought said that independent musicians – many of which make multiple Juno submissions each year – will greatly appreciate the new system.

“The biggest benefit really is from the submitters’ perspective,” she said. “They won’t have to send hundreds of CDs when making their submissions anymore.”

According to Yangaroo, the Junos will be the first major television awards show in the world to do all its judging via a digital system. The company also plans to roll out a video content distribution system, for music videos and television commercials, in the near future. The next Juno awards are in March 2009.

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