The origin of the Juno Awards was an annual series of reader polls first conducted in 1964 by the Canadian music industry trade magazine RPM. RPM editor and publisher Walt Grealis and record label executive Stan Klees started the poll to help raise the public profile and recognition of musical artists in Canada. From 1964 to 1969, the winners’ names were published in RPM at the end of each year. Awards were presented for the first time in 1970 during a ceremony at Toronto's St. Lawrence Hall. Originally called Gold Leaf Awards, they were renamed the Juno Awards in 1971 after the Roman goddess and in tribute to Pierre Juneau, the first chairperson of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), who was responsible for introducing the Canadian content quota to Canadian radio that year.
Founding of CARAS
Winners continued to be selected by RPM readers until 1975, when the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) was formed expressly for the purpose of overseeing the annual Juno Awards ceremony. Voting was reserved primarily for CARAS members, with membership open to people working in the recording industry. Also in 1975, the awards ceremony was telecast for the first time on CBC, which allowed the event to achieve a higher profile. In 1982, the show drew more than two million viewers; in 2009, more than four million. CTV has broadcast the awards ceremony since 2002.
In 1978, CARAS established the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Oscar Peterson and Guy Lombardo were the first inductees to be honoured for their achievements. In recognition of Grealis’s efforts to promote the industry, CARAS founded the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award in 1984 to acknowledge members of the Canadian music community who have played a significant role in building a viable and growing domestic industry. Broadcaster J. Lyman Potts was the inaugural recipient.
Specific award categories and their descriptions have varied from year to year to reflect changes and developments in the music industry. In 1964 there were 16 categories, and in 2014 there were 42. The selection process also has varied over the years, often depending on the category. Music released during the year-long eligibility period is submitted to CARAS by artists or their representatives and designated for particular categories to be considered for nomination. Typically, a panel of judges determines the nominees in each category in a round of voting in October. A second round of voting to determine the winner takes place in late January; the votes are cast by all CARAS delegates except in some of the genre-specific categories, which are determined by panel. The nominees in every category are announced to the media in February and the winners are announced at the awards ceremony in March.
The panels of judges for each category change every year, and are comprised of people from different facets of the music industry and different regions of the country. Each category is overseen by an advisory committee, which ensures that all the submissions meet the required criteria.
Since 1993, the nominations for eight specific categories have been determined at least in part by domestic sales. The nominees for International Album of the Year and Album of the Year are based solely on sales. The nominees for Artist of the Year, Group of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year and Breakthrough Group of the Year are determined by an equal combination of sales data, judges’ votes and online data compiled by the analytics company Next Big Sound. Nominees for Pop Album of the Year and Rock Album of the Year are determined by an equal combination of sales data and judges’ votes. Votes cast by CARAS members determine the winners of these eight categories.
The nominees for the Juno Fan Choice Award, introduced in 2003, are ranked by a combination of domestic sales and online data compiled by Next Big Sound. From 2003 to 2011, the Juno Fan Choice nominees consisted of the top five artists ranked according to these criteria; in 2012, the category was expanded to include 10 nominees. The winner is chosen by an online vote open to the general public.
Awards Ceremony and Events
The Juno Awards were held outside of Toronto for the first time in 1991, at Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The awards ceremony grew significantly in 1995 when it was transformed from an industry function into a public event at an arena concert venue; the first ceremony in this format, at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum, attracted about 10,000 fans. The 25th anniversary of the Juno Awards was celebrated in 1996 with the release of both a book and a four-disc box set entitled Oh What a Feeling. It was the first box set in Canadian history to be certified diamond for sales of over one million copies. Similar box sets followed in 2001 and 2006 to mark the 30th and 35th anniversary of the Junos; the latter was certified platinum in Canada. An annual Juno Awards compilation CD was launched in 2003.
Vancouver hosted the awards show for a second time in 1998, moving it to the much larger GM Place. The Junos' growing popularity made the move to arenas permanent, and they alternated between Hamilton and Toronto from 1999 to 2001. In 2002, CARAS began taking the event to music fans across the country, with St. John's hosting the show that year. This also marked the first time that the awards were given out over two evenings; most of the awards were presented in front of an industry audience on Saturday and then a selection of higher profile awards were given out on the nationally-televised show on Sunday in between an increased number of performances.
Since 2001, special public entertainment events have customarily accompanied the annual Juno weekend. The Songwriters' Circle — based on an annual event of the same name at the East Coast Music Awards (ECMA) and co-sponsored by the CMPA, SAC and SOCAN — was established in 2001. It brings together artists for an informal and intimate concert of songs and stories, with proceeds typically going to support Band Aid — a program sponsored by CARAS that is intended to improve music education in Canada by providing individual grants to selected schools across the country.
In 2002, CARAS launched JunoFest and Juno Fan Fare to create more opportunities to connect Canadian musicians to their fans. JunoFest is a public, ticketed two-day event that presents concerts in local venues of the host city. FanFare is a free interactive public event that allows fans to meet with their favourite bands and artists. In 2004, Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy founded the Juno Cup, a charity hockey game featuring Canadian musicians playing against former NHL stars, all to raise funds for MusiCounts, the organization that administers the Band Aid program.
Other Canadian Music Awards
The Juno Awards are effectively, though not exclusively, devoted to the English Canadian sector of the recording industry. They are paralleled in Québec by the Félix Awards, which began in 1979 (see also ADISQ). Other regional music associations established their own awards to help raise the profile of their respective local industries and member artists. The Eastern provinces have hosted their own East Coast Music Awards (known until 1991 as the Maritime Music Awards) on an annual basis since 1989. In 2002, the Prairie Music Alliance (representing Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) expanded to incorporate the music industry associations of BC and the Yukon, thus creating the Western Canadian Music Alliance (WCMA). The WCMA has hosted the Western Canadian Music Awards annually since 2003.