At the next edition of the Music Industry Awards, the most important Flemish music prizes, one fewer statue will be awarded. The ‘Solo Male’ and ‘Solo Female’ categories will be combined into one gender-neutral award for ‘Best Solo Artist’. This is reported by the organisers, VRT and Vi.be.
“Every year we assess whether we should maintain or adjust our existing categories,” says Gerrit Kerremans, music coordinator at VRT. ‘We have already done this in the past when we replaced the “urban” category with “hip-hop”. This year we thought the time was right to bring all solo artists together in one category.’ Kerremans calls it a ‘future-oriented choice, in which we focus on the music, and no longer the gender of an artist.’
The MIAs are not the first cultural prizes to take this step. The American Grammys already did this in 2012. The film festivals of the Netherlands and Berlin followed more recently. The Brit Awards also presented one prize for solo artists in the last two editions. That decision came after criticism from pop star Sam Smith, who, as a non-binary artist, felt excluded by categories that presented gender as a distinguishing factor.
This caused controversy at the Brit Awards last year. After Adele won the top prize for best artist in the first gender-neutral year, only men were nominated in 2023. Winner Harry Styles dedicated his award to overlooked female colleagues such as Rina Sawayama, Florence Welch and Charli XCX. In the international category, Beyoncé won, and Lizzo and Taylor Swift were also nominated.
The Flemish film prizes, the Ensors, also experienced growing pains when they switched to gender-neutral prizes in 2022. Then the four acting awards were stolen by men. This year the flowers were distributed: two men won the film awards, two women the TV awards.
The ‘Solo male’ and ‘Solo female’ categories at the MIAs have regularly been dominated by the same artists in recent years. Metejoor and Niels Destadsbader won two years in a row, Stromae and Angèle three years in a row. Selah Sue even has five statues for ‘Solo Woman’ on her mantelpiece. The previous edition provided a fairly balanced picture, with ten prizes for men, seven for women and three for a mixed duo. Pommelien Thijs and Stromae were the big winners of the evening, with three statues each.
The MIAs will be awarded on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. This year the award show will take place for the first time in the Sportpaleis in Antwerp. As of today, the media jury can decide which artists will be nominated in the seventeen categories. This year, each category will have not four, but five nominees. The public and music sector can vote for their favorites from November 30.