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Changes in store for 2003 NZ Music Awards

New Zealand's national music awards are dancing to a new tune in 2003.

Entries to this year's awards are now open and they are to be presented at a gala function on the evening of April 30.

Now in their 38th year, the New Zealand Music Awards 2003 - known as the Tuis - are evolving to reflect changing trends in New Zealand music the organising group says.

The main changes are in the award categories with four new awards and two that recognise commercial success. The new awards are for best Urban, Dance, Roots, Pacific Island albums and highest selling single and highest selling album.

2003 Tuis changing alongside local music scene

The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand says the changes have been made to "better promote the vibrant diversity of the current music scene across a broad range of categories".

RIANZ Music Awards spokesperson, Mark Ashbridge, says the New Zealand Music Awards are the country's longest established and most respected music awards and they need to evolve to reflect trends in New Zealand music.

"These changes are a first step in a fresh direction," Mr Ashbridge says. "New Zealand music constantly evolves and it is important that the national awards reflect this evolution as the annual 'best of' in the profession.

"The New Zealand Music Awards provide a focus for the industry and they are also a celebration of the past year's achievements. And that means they must remain relevant to the musicians and the music being produced."

In addition to the changes to a number of the actual awards, the judging criteria have been altered to bring the New Zealand Music Awards more into line with the way judging works at The Brits in the UK.

Specific changes include:
· A three-fold increase in the number of judges from 30 to more than 100
· 11 categories to be judged by a "voting academy" comprising 90 representatives from various sectors of the industry
· Nine categories to be judged by "voting schools" comprising experts in the different music genres being judged
· Two sales categories judged by company audit.

Altogether there will be 23 awards - 20 peer-voted awards, two categories judged by company audit and the International Achievement Award judged by the 2003 New Zealand Music Awards committee.

The awards evening this year will be an industry-only affair, Mr Ashbridge says. "This is in line with other major international awards including of course the Oscars and the Grammys."

Mr Ashbridge says the awards represent a celebration of the past year's music achievements and an opportunity to acknowledge those who made it happen.

"Winning a Tui also provides major benefits for artists in terms of both profile and sales. They are a benchmark by which we can judge how well we are doing internationally and they promote the depth of musical talent we have in this country."