The 2020 ARIA Awards Is Set for Sydney, With Some Changes

Tones And I at the 2019 ARIA Awards in Sydney, Nov. 27.

Photo credit: Jordan Kirk

Tones And I at the 2019 ARIA Awards in Sydney, Nov. 27.

The 2020 ARIA Awards will be staged this November, in a COVIDsafe format.

The Australian recording industry flagship awards ceremony will be held Nov. 25 at its regular spot at The Star Event Centre in Sydney, only there won’t be any spectators.

Entering its 34th year, the ARIAs will be “virtual, but real,” ARIA CEO Dan Rosen tells Billboard. “There will be an ARIA stage with real people on it.” The Star “just won’t have a live audience in there.”

YouTube will stream performances online through an ongoing partnership, and free-to-air broadcaster Nine Network will beam the show across Australia.

After the bushfires, and now the pandemic, canceling the ARIAs would have been a gut punch for the music industry and the broader Australian public. Music “gets people through these challenging times,” Rosen notes. “We thought it was very important moment for ARIA to be able to reflect back on the artists who are at the center of it. We’re going to make sure we do everything we can to celebrate a really incredible year in all of its ups and downs.”

There’s a lot to celebrate, certainly on the music side. Over the past 12 months, more than 50 homegrown LPs have cracked the Top 10 on the ARIA chart, and 10 Aussie albums have gone to No. 1, including sets by Dune Rats, Tame Impala, 5 Seconds of Summer, Violent Soho, Lime Cordiale and more.

“It’s an industry that’s been challenged,” notes Rosen, “and through it all we’re putting out great music.”

In another break from the usual program, The Fine Arts and Artisan ARIA Awards will be awarded on the same day as the ARIA Awards.

Nominations for the main event will be announced next month. It’s unclear which legendary act or artist will be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, though Rosen confirms the special ceremony will happen.

As previously reported, ARIA has partnered with the NSW Government to “amplify” the event through live music. The Great Southern Nights campaign will see 1,000 COVIDSafe gigs roll out across Sydney and regional NSW in the weeks leading up to the annual gala.

“This year’s Awards will be different from those we have held in the past,” comments Denis Handlin, ARIA Chairman and Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Australia and New Zealand, “but it provides us with a creative opportunity to showcase our fantastic Australian talent in a unique way to music fans here and around the world.”