Oshawa Music Awards move online due to COVID-19

The Oshawa Music Awards have been moved online due to the spread of COVID-19. Photo credit: Melanie Lennon

Over the past few weeks, events everywhere, from concerts to sports, have gradually been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19.

The festivities scheduled for Oshawa Music Week (OMW) are no different, unfortunately. Earlier this week, OMW organizers said all events from March 29 – April 4 are cancelled, except for the Oshawa Music Awards (OMA).

The ceremony on April 3 was set to honour lifetime achievement award winners, and April 4 was for winners of annual awards like ‘Album of the Year’ and ‘Artist or Band of the Year.’

For safety reasons, the awards will not take place in person. Instead, OMA will run online starting April 4.

Tony Sutherland, a Music Business Management professor at Durham College and one of the event organizers, said there was too much work put into the OMA for the end results to go unnoticed.

“We had over 4,000 votes that were cast from 16 different countries…We were wondering, ‘well, what do we do with this great information we’ve got?’,” he said. “You can share anything virtually. You can share information, you can share pictures, you can share music…so why not let the show continue?”

After two weeks of debating their next move, Sutherland and his team agreed to move the show online.

“The safety of everyone, that’s going to be paramount,” he explained. “If we can move it online…we can continue the celebration. We can ensure that we are doing all of the fans who have voted, and all of the people who have submitted their material – we’re going to do them justice.”

Instead of hosting two nights like previously planned, Sutherland said the celebration will be spread out over seven to eight weeks. He said they’ll spotlight one or two of the ten categories once a week, and take their time to honour each artist.

“As opposed to just having a clip of a song at an award show played, now the nominees get a chance to talk about themselves,” said Sutherland. “We get a chance to showcase them a little bit more to the audience, to the fans, to the world.”

According to Sutherland, a specific timeframe hasn’t been established yet. However, he believes it’ll begin around 7 p.m. like the initial dates.

He also said the livestream is free to watch. All previous ticket buyers can request a refund if they wish, or they can hold on to their tickets for a later date.

“Right now, our plan is we will do the online celebration, we will announce the winners online. But we want to have a celebration when we are in the clear,” he said. “When we’re in a good place where we can all come together.”

However, he also said if you don’t claim your money back, there is an option to donate to the Unison Benevolent Fund. The organization is a non-profit, registered charity providing relief services to the Canadian music community in times of hardship.

“Right now, there are many artists who were supposed to be playing. Artists who depend on that next paycheque from their next gig, who are supposed to be playing and their job got cancelled,” he pointed out. “If you don’t take your money back…that money now goes to help those artists, those performers, who right now can use the help.”

Sutherland said he hopes the community tunes in to the livestream. The link will be posted on the OMA’s social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

“There is no reason why we cannot still be human, and we still can’t be a collective, and we still can’t celebrate something,” he said. “This gives us the opportunity for me to make the announcement and get something good out of something that is not so good at this point.”

The schedule and start time will be available on the OMA website once it’s established.