The following changes have been made for the 2022 awards categories.

Beginning January 1st, 2022 the Best Mastering Engineer category will no longer accept entries that were mastered outside of the state of New Mexico. All entries in this category must have been engineered at studios in New Mexico.

New Categories

Beginning January 1st, 2022, the NMMA will accept music for the category Best Blues Album. For this year only, we will accept albums that were produced in both 2021 and 2020. See Full Length Categories for details.

Beginning January 1st, 2022, the NMMA will be offering a new single length category to celebrate the coming 100th anniversary of Route 66 titled Best Route 66 Cover. The category will be a single length cover of either the classic (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 composed by Bobby Troupe or the theme song from the 1950’s television show Route 66 composed by Nelson Riddle. These songs may be performed in any style. See Performance Specific Categories for details.

Changes to existing categories

Beginning January 1st, 2022, category 2. Ambient/New Age will now include such derivative forms as Ambient house; ambient techno; biomusic; chill-out; downtempo; IDM; post-rock; space music; trance; trip hop. See Single Length Categories for details.

Single Length Genre Categories
Categories 1-24 are judged on production, performance and arrangement.

1.Adult Contemporary/Adult Pop- Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Adult contemporary is essentially a continuation of the soft rock style that became popular in the ’70s, with the same lush, soothing, highly polished qualities as soft rock. Some of adult contemporary’s core artists over the years include Elton John, Billy Joel, Sting, Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, One Direction and John Legend.

2. Ambient/New Age- Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Ambient is a spacious, electronic music that is concerned with sonic texture, not songwriting or composing. Ambient became a popular in the early ’90s, thanks to ambient-techno artists like the Orb and Aphex Twin. New Age music emerged from the meditational and holistic fields. Generally, these are harmonious and allied with new age philosophies encouraging spiritual transcendence and physical healing. Also included in this category are ambient house; ambient techno; biomusic; chill-out; downtempo; IDM; post-rock; space music; trance; trip hop.

3. Americana – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Americana is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band. Artists like Lucinda Williams, Wilco, The Handsome Family, Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford & Sons, Jakob Dylan, Marty Stuart and Rodeny Crowell. The original? Johnny Cash.

4. Blues – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

The blues is a joyful, exuberant music full of upbeat rhythms and playful humor – but it’s also a deeply sad music that deals with suffering and loneliness. It’s a music of dance halls and wooden porches, open fields and grimy factories, the city and the country. It has had an enormous influence on modern music. The blues is at the center of modern music – so it’s ironic that it was invented by people who lived on the very margins of modern society.

5. Bluegrass – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Bluegrass music is a tradition-based modern style of string band music, combining elements of old-time mountain music, square dance fiddling, blues, gospel, jazz, and popular music. Like jazz, bluegrass allows performers to improvise and take turns playing lead. Contemporary and traditional Bluegrass styles are considered for this category.

6. Children’s Music – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Children’s songs may include songs that adults sing or teach to children, songs children pass along to each other, and songs that children compose themselves. These distinctions are not always clear cut, however, as adults may teach children songs that they learned from other children in childhood, and children may pass along songs learned from adults to other children.

7. Country – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Country music has seen various developments since the first commercial recordings, but whatever form it takes, country music speaks to particular American musical traditions and values. Outlaw country, hot country, contemporary country and traditional country are considered for this category.

8. Electronica – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Electronica is a broad term that encompasses subgenres such as downtempo, intelligent dance music, electronic dance music, techno, house, drum and bass, trance among others. This music is mainly developed for dancing and concentrated listening purposes.

9. Folk – Original Compositions only. Single length entries only.

American Folk music is also known as roots music and led to the development of many other forms of music, including rock and roll. Folk music encompasses more traditional genres and more modern aspects of instrumentation.

10. Hip-Hop – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

As rap became more popular, DJs began improving their beats. MCs also began improving their raps by using more complex rhymes and by developing flow, or the ability to rap with a good sense of rhythm and a natural flowing style. Hip-Hop is smoother and flows more evenly.

11. Indie Rock – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Indie rock is free to explore sounds, emotions, and lyrical subjects that don’t appeal to large, mainstream audiences. It’s very much rooted in the sound and sensibility of American underground and alternative rock of the ’80s. Regardless of the specifics, it’s rock made by and for outsiders.

12. Jazz – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Louis Armstrong said it best: “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” Jazz is a style of music, distinguished by flexible rhythmic tempo accompanied with improvisation of solo and ensemble on basic tunes and chord patterns. A pattern on how to use time, modes, and a distinctive style later crystallized as a music genre known as Jazz. Jazz today is created in a wide range of styles such as Contemporary, Smooth and Eclectic; but one thing is certain, Jazz will always define hip.

13. Latin – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Latin music encompasses a huge universe of sounds and styles. From the vibrant beats of Salsa, Bachata, and Tango to the never-ending innovation of Latin rock and alternative music to traditional local styles of Spanish music such as Regional Mexican. Waltzes, Polkas, Mariachi, Norteñas, Rancheras, Cumbia and more contemporary flavors, including Latin dance and big band, Cubano, Latin Jazz, Merengue, Tango as well as contemporary styles like Rigaton, Ritmo and Romantico.

14. Metal – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Metal uses highly amplified guitar distortion, extended guitar solos, heavy drum beats, aggressive vocals, and volume. Metal is not fashionable, it is all about the music. Glam metal, thrash, and death, black metal, groove metal and nu-Metal are included in this category.

15. Modern Rock – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Modern rock is a genre that is meant to encompass many kinds of music. Back in the day when rock was coming to be, it was all about defying the system. Rock music was about making a statement and going against the grain. Often referred to as Classic Rock or Heritage Rock, this is the type of rock that embraces the style laid down by the likes of The Who, Springsteen, Aerosmith and Tom Petty.

16. Native American – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Music plays an integral role in the life of Native Americans. It is used for ceremonial purposes, recreation, expression, and healing. There are many different instruments used when making Native American music, including drums, flutes, and other percussion instruments. With so many different tribes, the music produced is always unique to its specific group. Hopi, Pueblo, and Zuni tribes of the Southwestern part of the country have been known to produce much more complex sounding music. The emotion invoked from Native American music has been a great influence in modern folk music This music must incorporate some sort of Native American cultural aspect. Ideally, it is written and/or performed by Native Americans.

17. Novelty/Humorous – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Songs in this category can be satirical, parody or humorous in nature. While you may parody previously released material using the original music arrangement as a basis for the parody, the parody itself must be original (i.e. satirical or humorous lyrics).

18. Pop – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Pop music are songs that are intended to reach a broad audience via commercial distribution, such as commercial recordings. They have a good rhythm, a catchy melody, and are easy to remember and sing along to. Most pop song lyrics are usually about the joys and problems of love and relationships. Pop has always been a catchall format for that style of music that is not defined by a specific genre but with mass appeal, nonetheless.

19. R & B – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

R&B or Rhythm and Blues is soulful and moving. R&B music often combines styles from jazz and blues but R&B today can be a combination of pop, hip hop and funk. The evolution has been facilitated by present-day R&B artists.

20. Rap – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Rap’s core components are beats and rhymes, but that simplicity belies the wide range of sounds that have sprung from them. Instrumentalists, a sampled breakbeat, or a drum machine can form the backbone of a track, while an arrangement can be spaciously spare or chaotically dense, and a chorus can range from atonal shouting to a sweet melody. Rap has had its effect on most other music forms, from R&B to rock to jazz. Rap is street and sometimes volatile protest music.

21. Reggae – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Reggae is an up-tempo, rhythmic variation based on the New Orleans R&B Jamaican musicians heard broadcast from the US on their transistor radios. Since then, reggae has proven to be as versatile as the blues, from the melodic rock steady style and the rock and folk-influenced songwriting to trippy, near-psychedelic soundscapes. It has crossed into the mainstream.

22. Religious/Gospel – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Any style of music is accepted. The music should have a spiritual message. It can be contemporary Christian or gospel, more traditional praise music or spiritual music from other world religions has also been introduced into this category.

23. Singer/Songwriter – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

In the late 60s and early 70s, most of the original singer/songwriters performed alone with an acoustic guitar or a piano but some had small groups for backing. The main concern for any singer/songwriter was the song itself, not necessarily the performance. This resurgence of the style in the late 80’s led to a new popularity and exposure for a new crop of contemporary singer/songwriters. This genre attempts to define the songwriter not only as an entity, but as a style. Typically acoustic or stripped down to the bare essential components, it encompasses many styles.

24. Western – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Western or Cowboy Music was originally handed down from the genuine Old West articles, its repertoire consisting of songs sung on the open range to pass the time on cattle drives. This tradition continued to inform country & western music long after its attendant lifestyle had all but disappeared, since romanticized cowboy mythology still held a fascination for many. Some artists have sought to preserve the tradition and educate their audiences about authentic Western songs. This genre encompasses the original experience of American Folk music, but embodies the “Spirit of the West.”

25. World – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

World music often refers to music that doesn’t fall into the North American or Western European folk traditions or to hybrids of various indigenous music. While certain styles like reggae or Latin music have grown large enough to be classified as their own genre, almost everything else is classified as world music. Worldbeat is usually the result of Western hybrids and fusions, yet it still falls under the world music umbrella because it borrows styles, sounds and instrumentation from various indigenous music. World music tends to have ethnic folk roots but comes in all styles and all tongues.

Performance Specific Categories
Categories 26-35 are judged on criteria specific to the category.

26. Best Arrangement Original Composition – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.

Any genre. Judged solely on the quality of the arrangement, its rhythm, consistency and complexity.

27. Best Cover Song (Remake) – Single length entries only.
Any genre. Recordings of previously released commercial material. Re-recordings or covers of material previously entered into the New Mexico Music Awards are not eligible. Covers are the lifeblood of any music genre. Just ask Alan Jackson, Linda Rondstat or Phil Collins. Judged on the arrangement and performance only.

28. Best Route 66 Cover Song-Single length entries only.

For the 100th anniversary of historic route 66 being celebrated in 2026, the New Mexico Music Awards has opted for a special category of Route 66 cover songs. The category will run for the next four years and will be a single length cover of either the classic (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 composed by Bobby Troupe or the theme song from the 1950’s television show Route 66 composed by Nelson Riddle. These songs may be performed in any style and as a solo or group. Winners over the next four years will then compete in 2026 and the 2026 winner will have their song as part of the Smithsonian exhibit in Washington, DC.

29. Best Instrumental Performance – Single length entries only.
Any genre. Judged solely on the instrumentalists’ performance. Any style, single or group. Any genre.

30. Best Mastering Engineer- Single length entries only.
Any genre. Once the project is finished and the musicians have long since packed up and gone home, the Mastering Engineer is tasked with “sweetening” the sound and making it perfect for high quality audio presentation. Judged on entire ensemble. Entrants must provide both pre and post mastering versions of the entry. Only music mastered in the state of New Mexico will be eligible for this category.

31. Best Recording Engineer – Single length entries only.
Any genre. Producers oversee a project’s individual components but engineers put the sound together. Judged solely on engineering quality of the entry. Judged on entire ensemble.

32. Best Song – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.
Any genre. Based solely on the quality of the composition.

33. Best Vocal Performance – Single length entries only.
Any genre. Judged on the entire vocal ensemble. Any style, male, female or group.

Non-Performance Categories
Judged on marketing concepts and design.

34. Best Video – Original compositions only. Single length entries only.
Any genre. The video category includes short films and video scores as well as traditional music videos. Judged on production

35. Best Packaging Design – Entries must be album length and commercially available.
Commercially available means that the product must be retail ready and available through retail outlets or the Internet as a download through a retail outlet such as Apple Music, Amazon or other retail outlet. Please submit a separate CD for this category. Graphics are an important part of selling any project. Cheesy artwork says cheap production to a record label or to a consumer.

Full Length Categories
Categories 36-42 are judged as a full length, commercially available projects. Commercially available means that the product must be retail ready and available through retail outlets or the internet as a download through a digital retail outlet such as Apple Music, Amazon or other retail outlet. The album must be uploaded (all audio tracks) and submitted with artwork. Each project is judged on the consistency and commercial viability of the project.

36. Best Blues CD– Entries must be album length and commercially available.

Judged on the project’s commercial viability within the Blues music marketplace. Also judged on performance, production and composition.

37. Best Country CD – Entries must be album length and commercially available.
Judged on the project’s commercial viability within the Country music marketplace. Also judged on performance, production and composition. Includes alt-country, outlaw country, hot country, traditional country, country & western and other country genres.

38. Best Rap/Hip-Hop CD-Entries must be album length and commercially available.
Judged on the project’s commercial viability within the Rap/Hip-Hop music marketplace. Also judged on performance, production and composition.

39. Best Jazz CD – Entries must be album length and commercially available.
Any style of Jazz will be considered including Straight Ahead, Bebop, Fusion, Swing, Smooth, Rag Time, Dixieland, Latin, Avante-garde, Mainstream and others.

40. Best Pop CD – Entries must be album length and commercially available.
Judged on the project’s commercial viability within the Pop music marketplace. Also judged on performance, production and composition.

41. Best Rock CD – Entries must be album length and commercially available.
Judged on the project’s commercial viability within the Rock music marketplace. Also judged on performance, production and composition.

42. Norman Petty Producer’s Award – Entries must be album length and commercially available.
Judging is based on the production consistency and quality of the total music product.

43. Best of the Year – Entries must be album length and commercially available.
This category encompasses the entire project. Judged on original concept, composition, engineering, production, performance, artwork, marketing and commercial viability.