Awards Season: Celebrating the Bests of Korean Music Industry

Awards Season

Autumn season in Korea is almost over and that chilly air that signals winter is just around the corner. But winter isn’t the only season coming because another equally cool season has just started!

Aside from getting extremely excited for the fun-filled winter season, Korean entertainment fans highly anticipate another “season” which happens annually at the end of the year: The awards and year-end ceremonies season.

For a country that genuinely values its music and entertainment industry that are continuously becoming more global, there are a lot of annual awards ceremonies and year-end programs that give recognitions to artists, actors and those people working behind the scenes that have outstanding achievements and have made a significant impact to the Korean culture popularity across the globe.

2016 Asia Artist Awards
EXO’s Suho delivering his heartfelt speech after EXO winning the ‘Best Artist of the Year’ award during the recently concluded 2016 Melon Music Awards.

Awards and recognitions are really special not only to the receiving artist but to the fans as well. Seeing your favorite artists receive an award, and hearing their speech of gratitude for the love and support are two of the most rewarding things that fans could get. That is why fans also do their best to support their favorite Hallyu stars win the much coveted Daesang (Grand Prize) which is the highest award given to the most outstanding artist/actor.

2016 Asia Artist Awards

Music awards and drama awards are held separately but recently, Hallyu stars got together for the first ever Asia Artist Awards 2016 that took place at Kyung Hee University in Seoul last November 16, 2016. It was the first ever awards ceremony this year that gave recognitions for both K-Pop and K-Drama stars. Finalists were selected through public fan voting and the winners were declared after the second round of voting.

If you missed the first Asia Artist Awards, there are more awards ceremonies and year-end programs that you will surely enjoy. For now, take a look at the four biggest music awards that K-Pop fans highly anticipate every year.

Melon Music Awards

Melon Music Awards Logo

Organized by LOEN Entertainment which began in 2009, Melon Music Awards (MMA) quickly established itself as one of the biggest music awards in Korea alongside the Mnet Asian Music Awards, Golden Disk Awards and Seoul Music Awards. Among all music awards, MMA is known for only calculating the digital sales and streaming count of all the albums that were released in the year, and votes collected on its online music store to determine the winners.

Melon Music Awards gives plenty yet prestigious recognitions but the major awards are the Top 10 Artists, Best New Artist and the three Daesang – Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year.

Melon Music Awards Top 10

The 2016 Melon Music Awards recently took place last November 19, 2016 at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. EXO won the Artist of the Year while Twice and BTS won their first Daesang award since debut – Song of the Year and Album of the Year respectively.

Mnet Asian Music Awards

MAMA 2016 Logo

Produced by CJ E&M through its music channel Mnet, MAMA is one of the biggest music awards in Korea and the most popular Korean music awards ceremony among K-Pop fans around the world. Every year, MAMA introduces new and creative concepts, and presents a spectacular production while staying committed in bringing people together through music, thus their slogan “Music Makes One.” MAMA started in 1999 with its original name Mnet Km Music Festival (MKMF) until it was renamed to what it is now in 2009.

The upcoming 2016 MAMA is presented by HotelsCombined, and with a theme ‘Connection’ that will showcase the evolution of MAMA. One of MAMA’s criteria for judging is the research. In addition to voting, looking up artist-related search terms on Naver, Daum, Nate, etc. will count. MAMA will be looking on how “researched” an artist is and how they rank among the other competitors. Online voting is still ongoing until December 2, 2016 at exactly 12AM (KST).

Since 2010, the ceremony is being held outside Korea. This year, MAMA will be held for the fifth consecutive time in Hong Kong on December 2, 2016 at 6PM (KST). It will broadcast live on MYX Channel in the Philippines. Online live streaming is available as well on MAMA’s official website.

Seoul Music Awards

Seoul Music Awards 2015 Logo

Also known as High1 Seoul Music Awards, Soul Music Awards (SMA) celebrates the best of bests in Korean music industry. Since its inception in 1990 and presented annually by Sports Seoul, the extravagant awards night is attended by many of the top music artists of Korea and honors the best and the hottest acts of the year.

The awards winners are selected from artists who have released albums during the year, through mobile votes, popularity poll, digital downloads and album sales, and judges’ scores. Aside from Daesang, category-specific and special awards, SMA also awards Bonsang (Main Prize) to 12 artists.

The annual Seoul Music Awards, which normally takes place on the first month of the following year, has yet to announce the date of the awards night, artist line-up and nominees for this year as of writing.

Golden Disk Awards

Golden Disk Awards Logo

Dubbed as the ‘Korean Grammy Awards’, Golden Disk Awards is considered as the biggest and the most prestigious awards ceremony for music in Korea. It recognizes the outstanding achievements of musicians and pop stars since it was founded in 1986 by the Music Industry Association of Korea.

Unlike the other awards, the Golden Disk Awards is largely based on physical album sales and digital sales. There is a Disk Daesang for physical-released album, and a Digital Daesang for digital-released single. Even when an artist is nominated in both categories (physical and digital), an artist can only win on either of the two. And similar to Soul Music Awards, an artist is only eligible for the Daesang if the artist won a Bonsang during the same event.

The 31st Golden Disk Awards will take place next year, awarding the most outstanding artists of 2016.

Awards ceremonies do not just recognize and celebrate achievements. For Korea, it is a tradition that plays an important role in keeping the industry growing, stimulating the creativity of the artists and fostering new talents. It is embedded in their culture of appreciating arts, talents and skills.

Now that the awards season has started, are you excited for more upcoming award shows?

Written by Mikhail Teneros

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