Mon 7/17 @ 7PM
NOTE: The venue for the AP Music Awards has changed. Instead of the Q, they will take place at PlayhouseSquare’s State Theatre. All originally purchased tickets will be honroed.
The fourth annual affair includes live performances by All Time Low, Against Me!, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Korn, Machine Gun Kelly, New Years Day, ONE OK ROCK, Pierce the Veil, the Pretty Reckless and Sleeping With Sirens.
Vying for a Skully award across many different categories will be alternative heavyweights such as Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, Green Day and Machine Gun Kelly, along with up-and-coming acts Broadside, Avatar, Creeper and Ice Nine Kills. Hosting the affair is Black Veil Brides frontman Andy Biersack.
CoolCleveland talked to Alternative Press CEO/founder Mike Shea about the APMAs.
Wow, here we are at the fourth annual event. Looking back, can you believe the show has come this far?
The first one was really an experiment. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we had this awesome idea. We underestimated the sort of response we were going to get for the first year. Originally, we booked the show to be in front of the Rock Hall and we sold out in about five minutes. We were like, “OK, we’re going to need a bigger park.” We went in the back to Voinovich Park, but the difficulty with that was building everything from scratch. That was a lot. We decided the second year to take it inside [to Quicken Loans Arena], have it be more controlled and not have to worry about rain. The response was just overwhelming. We were like, “Wow.” People in the city took notice, and it all worked out really great.
For the third year, the APMAs had to move to Columbus to accommodate the Republican National Convention. How real was the concern among some folks the award show wouldn’t return back to Cleveland?
Columbus did ask, but I think to a certain extent they had a feeling that we were just going to come back to Cleveland. If anything, we’ve had more requests and push to move it to someplace else like Los Angeles or Nashville. I guess we love Cleveland, which has just blown up as far as how hot of a town it is. All of these music industry people who come in town for our show really do enjoy being here.
Looking ahead to this year’s APMAs, what’s new?
For year four, we met with Destination Cleveland early on. They were very interested in having the APMAs be a part of this foundation of helping make Cleveland more of a music destination. They’ve really stepped up to the plate and helped us out with marketing and guidance. We really just pushed it to the limit. What’s different this year is the production side. It’s going to be shot more like a TV show. That was after experiencing the Grammys and a few other shows in person and realizing if we focus more on the TV side of it, it allows us a lot more creative freedom in how the show comes together instead of worrying about it being a regular concert. I’m really excited by it. We’ve really upped our game for the creative side for the show.
What’s great about the APMAs is the spotlight it provides on today’s underground scene. As far as the bands being nominated in certain categories, what’s the process?
We really sit down and go through where fan tastes and interests are. We monitor artists throughout the year and also try to give some artists a break that maybe haven’t been noticed or recognized. And we make sure we have like weighted classes so you wouldn’t have blowout necessarily. If you put Panic! at the Disco in a category, they’ll blow everybody out. So we put Panic! At the Disco against other popular artists.
If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, the APMAs usually have plenty of surprises. What’s planned for this year?
We have a couple of really great things happening. Laura Jane Grace from Against Me! is receiving an icon award. And she’s going to be performing on stage with Mina Caputo (Life of Agony), who is another transgender singer. She was actually one of the first ones to come out a number of years ago. She’s a legend. So the two of them will be collaborating on a performance that will be really something to see. We’ve also got Lzzy Hale from Halestorm coming out with New Year’s Day. That’s going to be a really strong moment as well. We’re really trying to push the envelope in regards to making the show more diverse. We’ve got all different types of music on the show this year. We’ve got people like Corey Taylor of Slipknot who will be giving Korn their award and joining them on stage as well. That will be really cool. We’ve actually got a pretty packed show.
Finally, looking ahead, how big can the show get?
The show will continue to grow, there’s no doubt about it. We’ll see where the end results are this year. We’re getting 1.5 million streaming viewers worldwide. It’s an international show, not just a Cleveland show. We have to remember that. For us, it’s all about growing the size of it, growing the participants and continuing to innovate and change. There’s a lot of award shows now turning into festivals. And it’s usually because people think there is a ton of money in it. That’s the wrong reason. Since we’re a smaller company, we tend to look at the show more as something that we can continue to grow as an experience that keeps our brand innovative and forward thinking.