The IMJA Winners 2019
Best Music Business Journalist
Of The Year
Jon Chapple // IQ Magazine
"I'm overwhelmed, and more than a little bit shocked, to receive the award for The Best Music Business Journalist 2019. It means the world to me to know that my friends and colleagues in the international live music industry – the people I write about every day – appreciate the work we're doing with IQ. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for me – I'll see you for a beer at a conference or show soon."
of the year
Laudation for Juliane Liebert // author & journalist, radioeins, regular articles for Süddeutsche Zeitung, swr2, Spiegel, Rolling Stone
While writing this laudatory speech for Juliane Liebert, who receives the International Music Journalism Award 2019 in the category „Best Music Journalist Of The Year – German”, I heard Lana del Rey’s new album "Norman Fucking Rockwell!“. The review of the previous album Liebert wrote for the Süddeutsche Zeitung still in my ear, her clever use of humour, the elegant and flippant style, the stoned enthusiasm seemed to me to be ideal to put me in the right mood to write a luxuriant but razor-sharp and at the same time nonchalant, short laudatio. And in which at the end one confuses all the appearing persons, Lana del Rey is disguised as Juliane Liebert and language and music have long since fallen on each other. We all lie - exhausted but also a bit happy - at the pool.
Until then, what was supposed to look light and elegant in the end was a tough, funny fight. Instead of me at first hysterical like in variant #1, should we say a bit exaggerated and at the same time being emphatically sure to be happy that Juliane Liebert gets this award for her great, wild and literary texts, which stand out because they dare something, play with digressions, as much as Jutta Koether and Clara Drechsler did in the 80s; smart, drinkable and easy to read, like Frida Grafes legendary film reviews. Or, as in Variant #2, to start culture-critically with the lament about the many boring texts in the allegedly oh so free genre of music criticism, in order to then highlight Juliane Liebert's texts as some of the few exceptions. Instead of staging them as a German and feminist variant of Lana oh Lana, as in variant #3, simply turning two into one, since both references tend to hint at and swirl around instead of narrating them and working with linguistic images that put us in indefinable, almost contradictory fast states, I decided to just briefly turn Liebert's own tone and style on, as I now turn Lana del Rey louder.
"All things that are done with great seriousness move on the fine line between sublimity and ridicule. Wanking, for example, but also Buddhism, weddings, separations, yoga, roast chicken. But I don't want to talk about fried chicken here, but about Lana Del Rey. I've read a lot about exploding whales in recent months. I don't know if the reader is aware of it, but washed up whales occasionally explode because of the putrefactive gases and stuff. Which is probably good, because imagine you live in one of those small towns on the coast, and suddenly a 40-tonner is washed up and how do you get rid of it? Sometimes you deliberately blow up whales with explosives etc. etc. to keep the whole thing short:
Since that night Lana Del Rey lay on the coast of my heart like an exploded whale." (Juliane Liebert 2014 about Lana del Rey's album „Ultraviolence“ in Noisey.)
PS: By the way, nobody needs to suggest to her that Liebert should also write literary texts, if I’m allowed this last digression. That's how she started as a teenager. Today you can find it if you Google-search „Scheiß auf das Weltall". I don't want to talk about the universe here though, but rather give a brief insight into what Juliane Liebert, who today writes for Süddeutsche Zeitung, der Spiegel and more, is up to: I can think of highly concentrated yet beautifully stoned texts about Unika Zürn, Roland Klick, Hurensöhne aka das Schimpfen, Filme, Morrissey, Rap, Rammstein, Brigitte Kronauer, and Lana oh Lana.
For the jury: Mascha Jacobs
of the year
Laudation for Vivien Goldman // journalist, author & musician, current book: Revenge Of The She-Punks
Vivien Goldman receives the prize for The Best Music Journalist of the year more than deservedly as one of the most important and radical actors and pioneers in rebel subcultures such as punk and reggae in the last 40 years. Her tireless work for the presence and visibility of resistant women both in music journalism and in the music business can hardly be overestimated, as can be seen in her feminist music history book "Revenge Of The She-Punks" (Omnibus Press, 2019). For generations of authors since the mid-1970s, she has been an inspiration and figurehead, and her work has brought the world of pop and the world of women in pop a decisive step forward and made it better.
For the jury: Hans Nieswandt
of the year
Laudation for Adrien Durand // Among others Les Inrockuptibles
The winner of the Prize For The Best Music Journalist Of The Year is Adrien Durand.
Freelance music writer, Adrien Durand works for several French medias, including the weekly music and culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles, in which he leads an enthusiastic watch on new records and acts, and also an inventive exploration of the career of rock icons such Cat Power, Freddie Mercury, Sebadoh, Stereolab…
The french jury
Text - german
Laudation for Aida Baghernejad // Ain’t I A Human?- Kaput
Remember the name Aida Baghernejad. If someone can make the cumbersome word intersectionality glitter in rainbow colours, as if Stuart Hall were a lesbian Asian woman and you were a Muslim gay guy who thought he had lost faith in the power of pop cultural representation, we have a lot to expect from them yet. „Aint I a Woman?“ The questioning title borrowed from Sojouner Truth by the young author Aida Baghernejad, who lives in London and Berlin, already points the way. In 1851, white feminists and early women's rights activists were asked to stand up for the rights of black women with this famous question. What the situation looks like today and how visibilities and representation in pop present themselves from an explicitly feminist perspective is the subject of this excellent text, which resembles a quick ride through pop history. It begins with Bikini Kill, makes a detour to Stevie Wonder and Rosetta Tharpe, and gallops with Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Gwen Stefani, Hijabi women as YouTube stars, Solange and Lizzo into the present time and ends with Erich Mühsams Aperçu: "Nobody can be free as long as they're not all". Come on let's go!
For the jury: Mascha Jacobs
Text - english
Laudation for Joshi Hardik // Music and nature- Music Plus
Sometimes it is not the particularly eloquently formulated, metaphor-rich texts that impress us. Sometimes it is information that surprises, impresses and - as in this case - shocks us. In his article "Music and nature" for "Music plus", Joshi Hardik took the trouble to break down the results of two studies into two facts: Never have we spent so little money on music as we do today and never before have we made so much mess of listening to it. Even though plastic production in the US recording industry has been reduced to less than one-sixth, streaming has roughly doubled greenhouse gas emissions. Streaming music thus has a more negative impact on the environment than the production of CDs, LPs and cassettes has ever done: cooled servers, controlled routers and Wifi cost energy for each streamed song and accelerate climate change. Thanks for this clarification, Joshi Hardik.
For the jury: Susanne Baller
Text - french
Laudation for Robin Ecoeur // Un peu, beaucoup, à la folie - un web-documentaire sur l'industrie musicale et la santé mentale des musiciens - Gonzaï / Racontr
The winner of the Prize For The Year's Best Work Of Music Journalism his Robin Ecoeur for is web-documentary "Un peu, beaucoup, à la folie - un web-documentaire sur l'industrie musicale et la santé mentale des musiciens", published by Gonzaï, Parisian webzine on pop and indie culture.
In his rich and profuse webdoc, Robin Ecoeur uses all the tools of digital journalism (text, video, playlists, oral history) to address a marginal – yet central – issue in pop music : how much the industry needs artists to be mentally affected?
The french jury
Audio - german
Laudation for Jan Kawelke & Vassili Golod // Machiavelli - Der Podcast über Rap & Politik - WDR Cosmo
A lot could have gone wrong in the attempt to invent a public radio produced podcast about rap and politics - but Vassili Golod and Jan Kawelke have put Machiavelli 2018 on track with astonishing sovereignty. Every fortnight, the journalists and presenters take on a topic with competence and curiosity, the political and pop-cultural aspects of which they discuss with gratifying depth. Don't let the tone fool you: The approach and presentation are relaxed, but the respective backgrounds have been carefully researched. The fact that the thematic bracket is not overused - connections between rap and politics are debated, but never constructed - is one example of many for the journalistic claim of the two protagonists, who never place form above content. Machiavelli is clever, instructive and entertaining and thus a real enrichment for the German podcast market.
For the jury: Christoph Lindemann
Audio - english
Laudation for Jake Brennan // Disgraceland - Disgraceland
We stumble with the drunk Amy Winehouse over the sidewalk towards the flashlights, stand next to Cardi B in the strip club and are present at the arrest of Kurt Cobain. In his podcast "Disgraceland" Jake Brennan leafs through the dark, mysterious and also brutal chapters of music history in a detailed and pictorial way. The focus is on crimes such as murder, infidelity, arson, overdose, religious cults, drug trafficking and even high heels thrown through the air.
In three seasons so far current and historic topics are looked into. There are the recent acts of rapper Tay-K sentenced to 19 years imprisonment, as well as the decades-old entanglement between Frank Sinatra, gangster boss Sam Giancana and John F. Kennedy filling 30-minute podcast episodes.
Brennan rolls up the individual criminal cases like an audiobook - with an impressive feeling for dramaturgy, underlining sound production and above all with emotional, pictorial language, whereby he pulls the listener into the middle of the action. Brennan's enormous expertise even allows him to underpin familiar music stories, which we have heard several times before, with so many new details, background information and theses that even music history buffs will not press "stop".
Moreover, in every Disgraceland episode there is always a question that we have had to ask ourselves several times lately: Can the private individual be separated from the public artistic personality?
Of course, Brennan owes us the answer, but he points out causalities. We learn about background stories that have led to disputes, to entanglements and also to famous lyrics. However, his goal is by no means to trivialize things like brutality, but to contextualize it. With this he achieves that we probably won't ever be able to hear any of the individual artists again without bias, because their dark stories will always pop up in the back of our heads.
For the jury: Claudia Kamieth
Multimedia - german
Laudation for Isabel Röttger & Michael Kutscher // Rap in Buenos Aires: Duki & Co. übernehmen Argentinien - Arte/Tracks
Music journalism always comes into its own when it presents a previously unknown topic and places it in a larger context. Ideally, a contribution will raise interest where previously only ignorance and indifference prevailed. Isabel Röttger and Michael Kutscher’s feature on "Rap in Buenos Aires" from the (not without reason highly praised) arte Tracks series fulfills these requirements with flying colours.
From concert recordings, observations around the shows and above all from conversations with their protagonists overwhelmed by their own success, a vivid, lively portrait of an innovative scene emerges, of which most European viewers probably did not even know that it existed at all.
Röttger and Kutscher work out the peculiarities of the Latin American trap offshoot with great sensitivity. Rap stars Duki and Neo Pistéa, organizer Ysy A and producers of Neuen Arte are by no means just riding a wave spilling over from the USA. At the same time they are firmly rooted in their own culture and traditions, deep in cumbia, salsa or even dramatic tango - and they are all very young, which gives hope for the future of their artform as much as this contribution to music journalism gives hope to its genre. Top form!
For the jury: Dani Fromm
Of Music Journalism,
Laudation for Lina Burghausen // 365 Female MCs - Mona Lina
Hip hop is a man's thing, women are underrepresented in rap. That's only logical, as there are no good female rappers. That's the common fairy tale - with "365 Female MC" Lina Burghausen takes tis tale to where it belongs by kicking its ass: very, very deep into the land of legends.
Month after month she presents female rappers on her blog, one for each day of the year. The stylistic diversity, the broad range of skills and the sheer power that she shows should actually make every music journalist feel a slap in the face. All these female artists, some of them active for years, some of them for decades ... WE should have had them on our radar, should have made this wealth accessible to the world interested in music.
Instead, we stand bewildered, amazed at what we missed, and let a promoter show us how music journalism really works. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. But before we better give the woman who has done our job several notches better than we have, her well-deserved prize.
On top of that we give a little shout out - to German rapper Fler. With an ignorant remark of his - tenor, see above, there are no good female rappers - he not only involuntarily did a huge service to the rapping women's world, but to the whole rap-interested world. He provoked Lina. Well done.
For the jury: Dani Fromm
Laudation for Malcolm Ohanwe // Wir sind zu viele: Warum deutscher Pop nicht mehr weiß bleibt - Bayerischer Rundfunk
Malcolm Ohanwe's radio show and podcast "We are too many. Why Gemran Pop no longer remains white“ deals with the question why "music with migrant influences" is not represented on more playlists of big stations. The author thus takes a music-economic and cultural perspective without losing sight of his subject, music.
Ohanwe explores his subject as an audio format in the series Zündfunk Generator - one of the few one-hour radio formats still available in public radio. Its feature is audiophile, despite the different sound quality of the interview passages, with many music examples (which is by no means self-evident in podcast audio formats), offers a wide range of protagonists from different contexts and is highly subjectively narrated (which is also often a difficulty). Ohanwe not only accuses, but also takes a critical stance towards himself, for example regarding the representation of women, trans or non-binary Arists in his own feature.
"We are too many. Why German pop no longer remains white" is a critical questioning of the musical but also journalistic mainstream. Ohanwe's essay thus not only distinguishes itself from a large part of current music journalism, but also makes a contribution to self-reflection and to thinking outside the feuilletonistic box.
For the jury: Diviam Hoffmann
Laudation for Johann Voigt // Wer Gzuz' Realness feiert, darf bei seiner Frauenfeindlichkeit nicht weghören - Vice**
In showbiz image is everything. Everything stands and falls with the public perception of artists. If you can afford it, you send in lawyers when the going gets tough. Especially when serious accusations of domestic violence are carried from the private sphere into the public eye. As with Gzuz.
Of course, the presumption of innocence applies until the opposite is proven. But why did Johann Voigt's article „Who celebrates Gzuz' realness may not turn a deaf ear to his misogyny“" have to be taken offline? He has clearly fulfilled his job as a journalist. He argues that it was also journalists who lifted Gzuz up. Even feminists might have celebrated Gzuz before the accusations. "Gzuz is considered real. His word has weight," says Voigt. So what's wrong with measuring him against it? Who determines what may or may not be said?
Crazy times in which it is not clear whether the pursuit of truth counts or money and clicks.
The jury's decision to award this text is to be understood as taking a stance. Exactly what’s needed to counter misogyny and sexism made acceptable in rap.
For the jury: Niloufer Behradi-Ohnacker
**Due to legal concerns the publishers have retracted the submitted/nominated text from their site.