The following changes have been made for the 2021 awards categories.

After the 2021 awards season, (beginning in 2022) the Best Mastering Engineer category will no longer accept entries that were mastered outside of the state of New Mexico

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, Air Supply, Michael Bolton, Phil Collins, Lionel Richie, Chicago, Celine Dion, Taylor Swift to Rod Stewart, Maroon 5 and Sheryl Crow, American Authors, John Legend, One Direction.

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

Ambient music evolved from the experimental electronic music of ’70s synth-based artists like Brian Eno and Kraftwerk, and the trance-like techno dance music of the ’80s. Ambient is a spacious, electronic music that is concerned with sonic texture, not songwriting or composing. Ambient became a popular cult music 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.

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 Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Wilco, The Handsome Family, Old Crow Medicine Show, the Time Jumpers, Mumford & Sons, Jakob Dylan, John Hiatt 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. That’s probably why it has had such an enormous influence on modern music. Every style of popular music today – hip-hop, R&B, EDM, country, rock, metal, and jazz – they all have their roots in the blues. 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. Named for Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys the group combined elements of swing with a surging fiddle and syncopated banjo picking to create a wholly new genre. Contemporary and traditional Bluegrass styles are considered for this category. Artists include Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek, Dave Grisman, Bela Fleck, Chris Hillman Rhonda Vincent, Rickey Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder and even Steve Martin.

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. You know the usual suspects. Raffi, The Wiggles or Schoolhouse Rock, Disney stock and the Kidz Bop series are examples of this kind of music.

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

Country music encompasses everything from fiddler Eck Robertson to the arena-pop of Taylor Swift. 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. Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry, Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney make up the hot side of Country Music, while Redneck Rock & Roll the likes of Justin Moore, Toby Keith and Zack Brown Band tend more toward the Contemporary. There is also room for the great balladeers like Vince Gill and Faith Hill.

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. Electronica’s most famous artists include Daft Punk, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, The Crystal Method, Moby, Deadmau5, Skrillex and Flux Pavilion.

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

American Folk music consists of a very wide range of musical styles, including Bluegrass, country music, gospel, Appalachian folk, blues, and Cajun. It is also known as roots music and led to the development of many other forms of music, including rock and roll. By the 1960s, Folk music was everywhere. Folk music took a political turn: artists spoke out in their songs against the War in Vietnam as well as in support of many liberal ideas such as the American Civil Rights movement. Folk music encompasses more traditional genres such as Johnny Cash, Dylan, John Prine, Bruce Cockburn, Kristofferson and Neil Young. Lucinda Williams, Iris De Menth, Chris Isaak and Tracy Chapman. More recent include the Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Lumineers, The Stray Birds and Rose Cousins.

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

When hip hop music first developed in the late 1970s, not many people knew about it. As rapping 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. Local hip hop scenes developed in many countries and produced successful artists. Popular artists include Usher, T.I., Ludacris, Three 6 Mafia and Lil Wayne. Hip-Hop retains the soul of R&B and the street of Rap and adds a beat. Think Drake, Big Sean, Nicki Minaj, Frankie Ocean, Wiz Kalifa, Akon, Pitbull, Bruno Mars, Ciara, Nelly, Chris Brown, Kanye, Diddy, TI, and Trey Songz.

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. Artists include Gossip, The Stokes, Haim, Boxer Rebellion and Llanios. Earlier incarnations include Muse, The Black Keys, Three Days Grace, Jack White, Red Jump Suit Apparatus, Green Day, Liz Phair, TV on the Radio, The Killers, One Republic, Muse, Staind, Evanescence, Nickleback, Sonic Youth, Godsmack, and Saliva.

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

Linguistically, Jazz is a style of music, an American culture 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. Miles, Dizzy and Duke, who changed the face of jazz are now considered straight ahead traditional, The Rippingtons, Fourplay, Joe Sample and George Benson could be tagged as Contemporary while Wayman Tisdale, Dave Koz, Joyce Cooling, Marion Meadows and Boney James, are considered Smooth Jazz artists.

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. Consider Calle 13, Enrique Iglesias, Juan Luis Guerra, Los Lobos, Prince Royce etc.

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

Metal became popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the UK, taking its origins from the blues rock and psychedelic rock. The first bands used highly amplified guitar distortion, extended guitar solos, heavy drum beats, aggressive vocals, and volume turned up to eleven! Metal is not fashionable, it is all about the music. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple were early practitioners followed by Judas Priest, Motorhead. Poison and Def Leppard introduced glam metal. Sub-genres include thrash, and death &amp, black metal with bands like Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Death, Immortal, and Mayhem. Groove metal bands include Pantera, Sepultura, and Lamb Of God. Nu-Metal bands include Korn, Slipknot, Linkin Park, P.O.D., and Papa Roach.

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. The second generation of rockers include The Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Green Day, and Lenny Kravitz. Currents include Linkin Park, Maroon 5, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Papa Roach, Foo Fighters, Muse, Alter Bridge and Disturbed.

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. It can range wildly from Ke$ha, Adele, One Direction, Justin Bieber, Flo Rida, Taylor Swift, Fall Out Boy, Selena Gomez, Fergie, Kay Perry and Miley Cyrus to Michael Buble.

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

R&B/Rhythm and Blues. R&B music is soulful and moving. R&B music originally combined styles from jazz and blues but R&B today is not necessarily the same as the original R&B because it is a combination of pop, hip hop and funk. This African-American influenced music brings to mind Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Earth Wind & Fire and Aretha Franklin. That does not mean that it cannot include non-African sources. The evolution has been facilitated by present-day R&B artists such as Drake, Chris Brown, John Legend, Ariana Grande and Pharell Williams. Many artists have been referred to as “R&B”: Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones, Mariah Carey, Prince, the O’Jays, the Weeknd.

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

Rap spread from its New York epicenter in 1979 throughout the remainder of the U.S. (with each region taking on its own specific flavor) and then to countless countries. 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 reaches back to Melle Mel, Public Enemy and Run DMC while pushing forward to Snoop Lion, Bow Wow, Kanye, Eminem, Soulja Boy, Tyga, Nicky Minaj, Chingy, Lil Scrappy, Unk, Jay-Z and Ja Rule.

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

Reggae is a music unique to Jamiaca, but it ironically has its roots in New Orleans R&B. Reggae’s direct forefather is ska, an uptempo, 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 of Alton Ellis and the rock and folk-influenced songwriting of Bob Marley to the trippy, near-psychedelic soundscapes of dub artists like Lee “Scratch” Perry. It has crossed into the mainstream through “reggae sunsplash” festivals and pop-oriented bands like UB40, but more adventurous reggae artists, such as Marley and Perry, have influenced countless reggae, folk, rock and dance artists. Their contributions resonate throughout popular music. Reggae artists today include Luciano, Concious Roots, Sanchez, Sizzla and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad.

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

Any style of music is accepted. The music should have a spiritual message. Generally, this category is dominated by Contemporary Christian music artists like Chris Tomlin, Finding Favour, Colton Dixon, Jars of Clay, Mercy Me and Third Day, but has included more traditional Gospel music like Kirk Franklin, and Kelly Price. Spiritual music and music from other world religions has also been introduced into this category.

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

The term Singer/Songwriter refers to the legions of performers that followed Bob Dylan 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. Singer/songwriters were at the height of their popularity in the early ’70s. 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. From James Taylor to Jewel, Alicia Keys to Ryan Adams and so many more this category makes many into one.

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; Michael Martin Murphey became a notable figure in these efforts during the ’90s.This genre encompasses the original experience of American Folk music, but embodies the “Spirit of the West” and is more wide-open spaces than barrooms and pickups. Sons of the Pioneers and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot are the forefathers. Riders in the Sky and the Cascade Horesmen are more recent.

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

In the Western world, “World music” refers either to music that doesn’t fall into the North American and British pop or folk traditions or to hybrids of various indigenous music. Certain styles — such as Jamaican reggae or Latin pop — grew large enough to be classified as their own genre, but everything else, from traditional Chinese music to African folk, is classified as world music. Worldbeat is something different than world music, since it’s 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 tounges. Consider everything from The Mollys to Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Ravi Shankar and even Hawaiian slack key guitar as World Music.

Performance Specific Categories
Categories 26-34 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 Instrumental Performance – Single length entries only.
Any genre. Judged solely on the instrumentalists’ performance. Any style, single or group. Any genre.

29. 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. Music produced in 2020 will be the last year when mastering from outside the state of New Mexico will be eligible.

30. 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.

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

32. 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.

33. 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

34. 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 35-41 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.

35. 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. Please submit an additional CD for this category.

36. 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. Please submit an additional CD for this category.

37. 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. Please submit an additional CD for this category.

38. 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. Please submit an additional CD for this category.

39. 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. Please submit an additional CD for this category.

40. 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. Please submit an additional CD for this category.

41. 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. Please submit an additional CD for this category.