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The Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards (commonly known as ARIA Music Awards or ARIA Awards) is an annual awards night celebrating the Australian music industry, put on by the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA). The event has been held annually since 1987 and encompasses the general genre-specific and popular awards (these are what is usually being referred to as "the ARIA awards") as well as Fine Arts Awards, Artisan Awards, Lifetime Achievement Awards and ARIA Hall of Fame.

Winning, or even being nominated for, an ARIA award results in a lot of media attention on an artist, and usually increases recording sales several-fold (for example, in 2005, after Ben Lee won three awards, his album Awake Is the New Sleep jumped from #31 to #5 in the ARIA Charts, its highest position). However the awards are also viewed with scepticism by less mainstream artists, who see the awards an opportunity for a good party. (Tim Rogers of You Am I was once reported as keeping his awards in his outhouse toilet.)


In 1983, the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) was established by the six major record companies operating in Australia, EMI, Festival Records, CBS (now known as Sony Music), RCA (now known as BMG), WEA (now known as Warner Music) and Polygram (now known as Universal). It later included smaller record companies representing independent acts/labels and has over 100 members.

Australian TV pop music show Countdown presented its own annual awards ceremony, Countdown Music and Video Awards, which was co-produced by Carolyn James (aka Carolyn Bailey) during 1981–1984 and, in the latter two years, in collaboration with ARIA. ARIA provided peer voting for some awards, while Countdown provided coupons in the related Countdown Magazine for viewers to vote for populist awards. At the 1985 Countdown awards ceremony, held on 14 April 1986, fans of INXS and Uncanny X-Men scuffled during the broadcast and as a result ARIA decided to hold their own awards.

Since 2 March 1987, ARIA administered its own entirely peer-voted ARIA Music Awards, to "recognise excellence and innovation in all genres of Australian music" with an annual ceremony. Initially included in the same awards ceremonies, it established the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1988 and has held separate annual ceremonies since 2005. The ARIA Hall of Fame "honours Australian musicians' achievements [that] have had a significant impact in Australia or around the world".

Broadcast history

Initially, the ARIA Awards were not televised, at the very first award ceremony on 2 March 1987, the host, Elton John, advised the industry to keep them off television "if you want these Awards to stay fun". The first televised ARIA Awards ceremony occurred in 1991, all subsequent ceremonies were televised.


The 2007 awards were marred by controversy, after it was revealed by the ABCmarker's Media Watch programme that Network Ten had used subliminal advertising during the course of the broadcast, which under the Australian Media and Broadcasting rules, such an activity is illegal. Network Ten disputed the finding, however their basis for defence was criticised by Media Watch, as demonstrating an ignorance of the rules.

Nomination process

For full criteria, please see References.

To be eligible, a release must be commercially available within the specified period for a given year. Material must be previously unrecorded, thus ruling out most live albums. A recording can be nominated within multiple categories, but only one genre category (for example, an album could not be simultaneously nominated for Best Pop Release and Best Dance Release). Re-released recordings are not eligible and compilations are not eligible.

Artists must either be Australian citizens, or have applied for or attained permanent resident status and have resided in Australia for at least six months within the specified period. For bands, at least half the members of the group must meet this requirement. If a recording refers to both an individual and a band (for example, Dan Kelly & the Alpha Males), it must be nominated only the basis of the individual or the band, not mixed or both.

Some categories have further requirements as specified below:

  • Album/Single of the Year: Recording must appear in the ARIA Top 100 Albums or Singles chart respectively during the specified period.
  • Breakthrough Artist (Album/Single): Artist must not have previously reached the final five nominations in any ARIA awards category for any release, or have been in a group that has done so, or have a previous release in the Top 50 release charts.
  • Best Rock Album: "Recording must be directed toward Contemporary Rock, Modern Rock and Active Rock formats."
  • Best Adult Contemporary Album: "Recording must be directed toward Adult Contemporary formats."
  • Best Pop Release: "Recording must be directed toward CHR/Top 40 formats."
  • Best Independent Release: Recording must be released and funded by an ARIA member that is not a member of a multinational corporation.
  • Best Music DVD: Compilations may enter this category. Content must be at least 60% original. The release must be eligible to appear on the ARIA Music DVD chart (this means most "bonus disc" releases are unlikely to be eligible).
  • Best Comedy Release: Compilations are acceptable. Album, single and DVD releases are all eligible. Content must be 100% original.
  • Best Children's Album: Compilations are acceptable (but content must be 100% original, having been recorded specifically for that album). Form and content must be aimed at a pre-teen audience.
  • Best Dance Release: Compilations are acceptable. "Artists working primarily within the dance genre, eg: House, Techno, Trance, Hardcore, Garage, Breakbeat, Drum & Bass, Disco and Electronica are eligible. In the case of a remixed album or single, the production team(s) and the original recording artist(s) must both meet the artist eligibility criteria, and the release must qualify for inclusion in either the ARIA Album or Single chart."
  • Best Urban Release: "Artists working primarily within the urban genre, eg: r’n’b, hip-hop, soul, funk, reggae and dancehall, are eligible. In the case of a remixed album or single, the production team(s) and the original recording artist(s) must both meet the artist eligibility criteria, and the release must qualify for inclusion in either the ARIA Album or Single chart. The ARIA member must also nominate whether the production team or the original recording artist would be the recipient of the award."
  • Sales awards: A company may enter up to five recordings in a category. For these categories, the recording does not have to be first released during the specified period, so these categories are two of the few where recordings can be nominated more than once.

Judging process

A breakdown of the 2005 judging academy.
Sales awards are judged by an independent audit. The Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement awards are awarded at the discretion of the ARIA Board. Genre categories are judged by "voting schools" that consist of 40-100 representatives from that genre. The remaining generalist categories are the "voting academy", which consists of 1000 representatives from across the music industry.

Members of the academy are kept secret. Membership is by invitation only. An individual record company may have up to eight members on the academy. The only artists eligible to vote are winners and nominees from the previous year's awards.

During the 2004 ARIA Awards voting former 3RRR DJ Cousin Creep mocked the process by publishing his user name and password for the voting on music site Rocknerd before being banned from the process


Categories for the awards in 1987 are listed first, with newer awards listed chronologically:

ARIA Awards

"Album of the Year", "Single of the Year", "Song of the Year" (last awarded in 1998), "Highest Selling Album", "Highest Selling Single", "Best Group", "Best Female Artist", "Best Male Artist", "Best New Talent" (last awarded in 1998), "Best Country Album", "Best Indigenous Release" (last awarded in 1998), "Best Adult Contemporary Album", "Best Comedy Release", "Best Children's Album" (annually from 1988), "Breakthrough Artist - Single" (annually from 1989), "Breakthrough Artist - Album" (annually from 1989), "Best Independent Release" (annually from 1990), "Best Alternative Release" (annually from 1994 to 2001), "Best Pop Release" (annually from 1994), "Best Dance Release" (annually from 1995), "Best Rock Album" (annually from 1999), "Best Blues & Roots Album" (annually from 1999), "Best Urban Release" (annually from 2004) and "Best Music DVD" (annually from 2004) .

Fine Arts Awards

"Best Jazz Album", "Best Classical Album", "Best Original Soundtrack / Cast / Show Recording", "Best World Music Album" (annually from 1995) and "Best Original Cast / Show Recording" (annually from 1999 to 2003).

Originally awarded at the same ceremony as the ARIA Awards, the ARIA Fine Arts Awards have been awarded at a separate ceremony from 2004.

Artisan Awards

"Producer of the Year" (not awarded in years 19891994), "Engineer of the Year", "Best Video", and "Best Cover Art".

Originally awarded at the same ceremony as the ARIA Awards, the Artisan Awards were awarded separately at a ceremony together with the Fine Arts Awards from 2009.

Hall of Fame and achievement awards

ARIA Hall of Fame inductees have been installed annually from 1988 except 2000 (no inductees), "Outstanding Achievement Award" (periodically, first in 1988), "Special Achievement Award" (periodically, first awarded in 1989) and "Lifetime Achievement Award" (periodically, first awarded in 1991).

Originally artists were inducted into the Hall of Fame at the same ceremony as the ARIA Awards, in 2005 the inaugural ARIA Icons: Hall of Fame ceremony was held with another inductee at the later ARIA Awards ceremony—as from 2008 the ARIA Hall of Fame ceremony became a stand-alone event.

The trophy

The ARIA award trophy, used since 1990, is a tall triangular pyramid made of solid stainless steel. The 1987–1989 trophies were designed by Philip Mortlock, while the 1990 design was by Mark Denning. The Channel V award which is "V" shaped, and silver, or in the case of the award of 2008, red. As from 2005, The Hall of Fame trophy, from the Denning design, was golden coloured metal with ARIA printed in black near the base on two sides, on the third side is the award title (ARIA ICONS: HALL OF FAME), awardee name and date printed on a plaque.

ARIA Music Awards by year

To see the full article for a particular year, please click on the year link.

Year Album of the Year Single of the Year Hall of Fame
2009 Empire of the Sun

Walking on a Dream
Empire of the Sun

"Walking on a Dream"
Kev Carmody, The Dingoes, Little Pattie, Mental As Anything, John Paul Young
2008 The Presets
Gabriella Cilmi
"Sweet About Me"
Dragon, Russell Morris, Max Merritt, The Triffids, Rolf Harris
2007 Silverchair
Young Modern
"Straight Lines"
Frank Ifield, Hoodoo Gurus, Marcia Hines, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Brian Cadd, Radio Birdman, Nick Cave
2006 Bernard Fanning
Tea and Sympathy
Eskimo Joe
"Black Fingernails, Red Wine"
Midnight Oil, Divinyls, Rose Tattoo, Helen Reddy, Daddy Cool, Icehouse, Lobby Loyde
2005 Missy Higgins
The Sound of White
Ben Lee
"Catch My Disease"
Jimmy Barnes, Smoky Dawson, Renée Geyer,
Normie Rowe, Split Enz, The Easybeats, Hunters and Collectors
2004 Jet
Get Born
"Are You Gonna Be My Girl"
Little River Band
2003 Powderfinger
Vulture Street
Delta Goodrem
"Born to Try"
John Farnham
2002 Kasey Chambers
Barricades & Brickwalls
Kylie Minogue
"Can't Get You Out of My Head"
Olivia Newton-John
2001 Powderfinger
Odyssey Number Five
"My Happiness"
The Saints, INXS
2000 Killing Heidi
Madison Avenue
"Don't Call Me Baby"
No inductees
1999 Powderfinger
"The Day You Come"
Jimmy Little, Richard Clapton
1998 Regurgitator
Natalie Imbruglia
The Masters Apprentices, The Angels
1997 Savage Garden
Savage Garden
Savage Garden
"Truly Madly Deeply"
Paul Kelly, Graeme Bell, Bee Gees
1996 You Am I
Hourly, Daily
Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue
"Where the Wild Roses Grow"
Australian Crawl, Horrie Dargie
1995 Tina Arena
Don't Ask
The Seekers
1994 The Cruel Sea
The Honeymoon Is Over
The Cruel Sea
"The Honeymoon Is Over"
Men at Work
1993 Diesel
Wendy Matthews
"The Day You Went Away"
Peter Allen, Cold Chisel
1992 Baby Animals
Baby Animals
Yothu Yindi
"Treaty" (Filthy Lucre Remix)
1991 Midnight Oil
Blue Sky Mining
Absent Friends
" Nobody But You"
Billy Thorpe, Don Burrows, Glenn Shorrock, Pete Dawson
1990 Ian Moss
Peter Blakeley
"Crying in the Chapel"
Sherbet, Percy Grainger
1989 Crowded House
Temple of Low Men
The Church
"Under the Milky Way"
Ross Wilson
1988 Icehouse
Man of Colours
Midnight Oil
"Beds Are Burning"
AC/DC, Col Joye, Dame Joan Sutherland,
Johnny O'Keefe, Slim Dusty, Vanda & Young
1987 John Farnham
Whispering Jack
John Farnham
"You're the Voice"
ARIA Hall of Fame not established

Most Awards/Nominations

Highest number of awards received by an artist with the number of their nominations:
Artist Wins Nominations References
John Farnham
Kylie Minogue
Savage Garden
Crowded House
Midnight Oil
You Am I
Delta Goodrem
Eskimo Joe
Paul Kelly
Natalie Imbruglia
The Wiggles
Yothu Yindi
Kasey Chambers
Missy Higgins
Nick Cave
Empire of the Sun
Tina Arena
Wendy Matthews
Gabriella Cilmi


  1. Note: Archive copy from 2 August 2008.

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