The Polaris Music Prize is a not-for-profit organization that annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction. A select panel of music critics judge and award the Prize without regard to musical genre or commercial popularity.
Mission: Polaris is dedicated to celebrating the art of music. We bring together music lovers, artists and a dynamic jury to discover, discuss and award the best in Canadian music based on artistic merit.
Vision: Through our awards and programs we inspire music fans in Canada and across the world to champion important Canadian music.
Core Purpose: We believe in the value of music as art. It has the power to transform culture and shape identity.
Event Season: Polaris Music Prize hosts a series of signature events annually to announce and celebrate the nomination process and winners.
Long List: The Long List is where Polaris reveals the 40 nominated albums that will be considered for a given year’s Prize.
Short List: The Short List is where Polaris reveals the 10 finalist albums that will be considered for a given year’s Prize.
Gala: Our prestige winner reveal event, the Polaris Gala features live musical performances from the nominated acts on the Polaris Short List. The Polaris Prize winner is determined by an 11-member Polaris Grand Jury selected from the greater Polaris juror pool.
The Polaris Gala is hosted annually in September.
Heritage Prize: The Heritage Prize is a hall of fame-minded critics prize/public polling campaign meant to celebrate classic Canadian albums created before Polaris began in 2006. Like the Polaris Music Prize, winners and nominees of the Heritage Prize are albums of the highest artistic distinction, without regard to sales or affiliations.
Polaris Fast Facts
- 40 Long List nominees
- 10 Short List nominees
- 1 Polaris Music Prize winner of the $50,000 prize
- 9 runners-up
- 2 Heritage Prize winners
- 208 Polaris Posters commissioned by visual artists across the country
- 200+ annual jury participants
- 1,500 annual Gala guests
- $908,000 in prize money given to musicians
- 170 Short List nominees have been provided with in-kind media attention
- 20 Not-for-Profit and charity partners supported through the Community Development Program
Board of Directors
Alan Greyeyes, Festival Director, sākihiwē festival
Tao-Ming Lau, Blue Crane Agency
Miro Oballa, Taylor Oballa Murray Leyland LLP
Carla Palmer, CBC
Robyn Stewart, Women In Music Canada
Melissa Vincent, Jury Foreperson
Web Design & Development
Polaris Music Prize
1214 Dundas St. W.
I have completed an album that deserves to win. How do I submit my recording for Polaris consideration?
The short answer: you don’t. Artists or their representatives cannot submit to Polaris.
So if an act can’t submit an album to Polaris, how do you decide who gets nominated?
An expert jury of broadcasters, bloggers, programmers and other media authorities on Canadian music submit ballots listing the albums they feel are most deserving, based on their perspective as music-filterers. No person with a financial stake in an artist (manager, label personnel, bookers, publishers, et cetera) is eligible to be on the jury. They are listed here: http://polarismusicprize.ca/jury/
Throughout the year our jurors convene in a special closed forum to share and discuss music they believe merits Polaris consideration. These album “recommendations,” with the artists’ permission, are uploaded for all jurists to hear.
Jury members submit a ranked ballot listing what they believe are the five best Canadian albums from the eligibility window. The results become the 40 album Long List, which gets revealed each June.
From that the jury then submits another ranked ballot of five albums, this time choosing only from the Long List albums. The results become the 10 album Short List, which gets revealed each July.
How do you decide the winner?
An 11 member Grand Jury debates the merits of each Short List album, then cast individual secret ballots to determine what album they believe should win the Polaris Music Prize. Once the ballots are all counted we announce the winner of that year’s Polaris Music Prize.
How is the jury selected?
Jury members are selected each year by the Polaris Executive Director and the Jury Forepeople.
Can I be on the jury?
Maybe. If you’re regularly covering or filtering new and local Canadian music for print, radio, TV or the web we’d be happy to consider you.
Polaris actively seeks to find qualified jurors from across the country with a broad range of musical interests, an exceptional knowledge base and a desire to seek out the most artistically meritorious Canadian music.
Jury applications are accepted between October – December of each year. (Note: Jury applications for 2021 are now closed.)
Can I lobby the jury?
Outright lobbying is discouraged, but friendly contact that makes jurists aware of your record can be considered helpful depending on the jury member. We recommend that you research the jurors from your area and/or jurors who specialize in the music that you make, then contact them directly.
Jury members and their affiliations are listed on our site here. Feel free to direct this type of communication to their respective media outlets.
Do you have a list of contacts for the jury members?
We have a list. It’s private and we don’t hand it out.
Should I hire a publicist to lobby the jury?
That’s up to you. In the past, albums have won and been nominated with little to no publicity support. Others have had publicity support. It’s been our experience that the jurors care first foremost and always about the quality of the music and tend not to respond well to excessive publicity harassment.
I have another question, but it may not be frequently asked. Who can I ask?
You should email info AT polarismusicprize.ca. Once we figure out which Polaris person is the most appropriate to reply to you someone will respond.
Do you accept unsolicited records?
We do not.