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Indie fans can vote for favorite groups

Nov. 30, 2005

by MAEGAN MCGOWEN, entertainment writer

Each year independent labels and artists release records that indie fans consider good music, but the media gives these bands little attention despite the fact that they make up 25 percent of all music sales.

Now, indie fans not only have an awards show of their own, but they can vote for their favorite artists online.

The PLUG Independent Music Awards recently announced the nominees for its 2006 show.

"Right now the awards committee has announced the nominees, and the public can go online and vote," PLUG representative Jill Meisner said.

The online polls are open at www.plugawards.com and will continue online until Jan. 20.

PLUG is different from other award shows, such as the American Music Awards and the Grammy Awards, because it's devoted to independent music.

It's also intended to recognize the community of artists and indie fans who show devotion to the music they love by making mix tapes, braving sketchy venues, writing reviews and buying T-shirts.

This year, the third annual PLUG Independent Music Awards will return Feb.2 to New York City's historic Webster Hall.

Beggars' Group Records artist The National, which is nominated for six PLUG Awards this year, will be one of the night's headliners. More performances from the nominees will be announced in the coming weeks.

Jerry Hart founded PLUG because he wanted to help give a spotlight to the music he loves.

"Several years ago, some friends of mine and I who were working at college radio stations and running specialty shows got together and realized that none of the awards shows we were watching represented the music we listened to," he said.

"We had a lot of friends who were on independent labels, and we wanted to bind the entire independent music industry together by exposing music that will never make it to the Grammy's or the American Music Awards."

Hart created a small ballot and invited about 100 people to vote online. After having a positive response, Hart put the idea into action in 2004.

"We put together an advisory board called the PLUG Cartel," he said. "This group represents all those people who are known for rolling up their sleeves and working in the trenches to promote the music and raise visibility of independent artists."

The PLUG Cartel includes celebrities such as Jason Lee, David Cross and writers like Dave Eggers and Jon Caramanica.

The Cartel includes a variety of members, including 200 indie retailers/buyers, commercial specialty and college radio programmers, celebrities, artists, filmmakers, writers, agents and fans.

Hart said PLUG is about getting a fair representation of the entire cross-section of the independent music community.

"We want fans of this music to vote," he said. "This, for us, is a huge public mix tape, and we want everyone to share in it. We'd love for everyone in Baylor's neck of the woods to vote as well."

Luis Noble, an El Paso sophomore, is planning to vote this year.

"I love independent music because it gives the artist range. They're not put down by the image the record label wants to create for them," he said. "Artists have the freedom to do what they want with their music. It's true they might have less money, but they do make the music they intended to make."