At least one successful and high-profile local band is skipping this weekend’s MusicNL conference and awards show in Gander.
The members of Shanneyganock have chosen to let their longtime membership in the provincial music association drop, despite having won MusicNL awards over the years, after receiving a jury evaluation they say was disappointing on an application for funding for their latest album, “Rockin’ on the Water.”
“They said we lacked originality and needed professional development,” said Shanneyganock frontman Chris Andrews.
MusicNL has two granting sessions each year for its sound recording program, handing out four grants of $9,000 each during each session: $7,000 for recording, mixing and mastering and $1,500 for marketing and promotions.
Each session, roughly 30 local musicians apply for a grant, explained Jen Winsor, MusicNL’s communications and program officer and executive assistant.
MusicNL selects a three-person jury to evaluate the applications, consisting of people in the music industry — this could mean musicians, members of the media, publicists, promoters or others in the business. The jury is tasked with receiving the applications, which include demo recordings, a business plan and other supporting materials, and selecting the four recipients. All applicants are provided with the jury’s feedback.
Over the past number of years, Shanneyganock has applied for the grant three times, and received it once.
“It’s not sour grapes about not getting the grant. It’s the evaluations that came back,” Andrews said. “They said we were judged by a panel of our peers. No one will tell us who that is and we asked a bunch of our peers and no one knew what we were talking about. We’ve been members for years and no one has ever asked us to be on a jury.”
Shanneyganock member Bob Pike has retained his position on MusicNL’s board of directors, but leaves the room during situations where he’s in a conflict of interest, Andrews said.
“Rockin’ on the Water,” Shanneyganock’s 13th recording, debuted in the No. 1 spot on the world chart on Canadian iTunes when it was released in September, and has been in the No. 5 spot ever since. Performing with the band has been Andrews’ full-time job for the past 20 years.
Winsor said Shanneyganock isn’t the only high-profile act to be declined funding, and it’s nothing personal. The decision has nothing to do with MusicNL as an organization, she stressed.
“Hey Rosetta!’s ‘Plan Your Escape’ never got MusicNL funding,” she said. “Realistically, would MusicNL, as an association, have benefited to put our logo on the back of that album? Absolutely, but we aren’t the ones to choose who gets selected. We don’t have a say in what a jury picks. A jury meets and goes through the application and picks four people. It’s up to those three jury members and what they feel.”