For 25 years, the Echo Music Prize has acted as the highest accolade of the German music scene — Germany’s equivalent of the Grammy Award — but after facing heavy criticism for allowing an album featuring anti-Semitic lyrics took a top prize at this year’s ceremony, it was announced on Wednesday that the Echo awards will no longer continue.
The controversy started before the 2018 Echo Awards even took place as rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang came under fire for including lyrics that said their bodies were “more defined than an Auschwitz prisoner” in their song 0815. A song included on their Echo-nominated album Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3.
Despite protests to have the rap duo’s nomination withdrawn, the Echo Award committee defended the album’s nomination, stating the selection process was based on sales numbers and not quality.
“The ‘ECHO’ will no longer exist”
The Echo Awards came under even more fire when Kollegah and Farid Bang actually won the prestigious award for best Hip-Hop/Urban album. In the day’s following the April 12 ceremony, several prominent artists decided to hand back their previously won Echo awards in protest.
Facing growing tension and planned rallies scheduled for Wednesday in solidarity with Jewish communities across Germany, Germany’s Music Industry Association (BVMI) made the call to scrap the award.
“The ‘ECHO’ will no longer exist”, BVMI wrote in a statement. “The events surrounding this year’s ECHO, for which the Board apologized, cannot be reversed, but we can ensure that such a mistake does not happen again in the future.”
“a completely new beginning is necessary”
While the Echo Awards will no longer continue, Germany will not be without its own music award prize. “The Echo brand is so badly damaged that a completely new beginning is necessary,” said the BVMI while announcing work will begin on creating a new music prize with a brand new name.
“Germany, as the third largest music market in the world, continues to need music prizes,” the BVMI stated. “However, we do not want this music prize to be perceived as a platform for anti-Semitism, contempt for women, homophobia or the blurring of violence.”
Instead of being based on sales, the new award will likely be decided by a jury. This is currently how the winners of the Echo Klassik and Echo Jazz awards have been determined. Workshops to set up the new prize will take place in June.