Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the next-generation of Australian artists has arrived, fully formed. 

Of the 102 acts shortlisted in the 2021 ARIA Awards nominations, 43 are first-time nominees, or 42% of the total sum.

Eleven emerging artists are nominated, that is, earning kudos for their debut release.

Of the Best Artist nominees, revealed today, 20% are First Nations artists, with an additionally diverse pool of backgrounds including Papua New Guinean-Australian, Ghanaian-Australian and Greek-Australian, ARIA notes.

With six nominations each, Amy Shark and Genesis Owusu lead this year’s lineup, while the likes of Budjerah, Masked Wolf, Midnight Oil and First Nations collaborators, The Avalanches, Tones And I, and Vance Joy are close behind with five nods.

Two panel image of Genesis Owusu and Amy Shark

Meanwhile, Ngaiire and The Kid LAROI each have four, and Ball Park Music earn three chances ahead of the annual ARIAs, set to take place Wednesday, November 24th as an all-digital special.

The 35th edition of the ARIAs will introduce a raft of changes, as organisers set the tone for a progressive, more-inclusive era of the recording industry’s flagship awards.

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Among those changes, ARIA has scrapped the gender-based categories, and introduced the Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist, in honour of the late Mushroom Group founder and chairman.

In a scan of the labels, the majors predictably dominate the leaderboard.

Universal’s EMI (nine) and Modular divisions (seven), Warner Music (seven) and Sony Music (seven nominations) rake them in, while Amy Shark’s label Wonderlick, a joint venture with Sony Music, powers ahead with seven nods.

Masked Wolf’s Teamwrk, which has a partnership with ADA/Warner Music Australia, bags five chances.

Masked Wolf by Harpreet Singh

The indies make their presence felt with Mushroom Group labels Liberation (five) and Liberator (two); Dot Dash (four); BMG (three); and Tones’ Bad Batch (six) all in with a shout; while AWAL, across its nominated acts Genesis Owusu, Spacey Jane and Nick Cave, earns eight nods.

Including the Fine Arts and Artisan Categories, the ABC’s recording arm lands 11 nominations.

“We are pleased to be honouring the strength and perseverance of our talented nominees from our homes this year,” comments ARIA Chair Natalie Waller in a statement. “While this year will be a little different from every other, the spirit, gratitude and celebrations will remain just as large.”

The entire show will stream on YouTube, through ARIA’s partnership with YouTube Music, and on free-to-air Channel 9 network’s 9Now digital channel.