Johannesburg, South Africa: tonight is the proclamation ceremony to reveal this year’s SAMMA 2016 winners. Taking place at Rumours Lounge, the evening begins early with a full roster of live entertainment, between which ‘winners’ for the categories will be invited to step up and receive their South African Metal Music Awards.
As is the duty of metal4africa who is serving this year as the Independent Observer, we have compiled a report on the proceedings to keep it clear and transparent as to how the ‘winners’ in each category were determined. We have agreed to our role in good faith on the condition that the system currently employed this year complies with a few important prerequisites:
1. As regards our concern over fixing of results by any person/s with authority: the system employed combats the possibility that an individual panel member with a particular bias can assert their will over and above proceedings in order to engineer a fixed outcome for a particular nominee.
2. As regards our concern over fixing of results by nominees with unreasonably advantageous influence or access to resources: the system combats the possibility that a nominee who has extensive social reach and access to higher-than-average financing can engineer a fixed outcome by means of marketing campaigns.
3. As regards our concern over fixing of results by means of exclusion: the system maximizes the possibility for acquiring a large amount of relevant and varied data for analysis from multiple sources, and facilitates the transparent handling thereof.
4. As regards our concern over fixing of results by means of manipulation of authoritative persons: the system is based upon a more scientific approach, being governed by the law of averages rather than purely on a method of debate whereby a charismatic personality can potentially influence a fixed outcome.
In this report, our duty is to set out evidence that these prerequisites were indeed in effect throughout the process, and to bring the public to a stronger understanding as to how and why we believe that the results achieved could not attain a more desirable outcome if processed differently. What we do recognize is that there will always be objections to any system or method. We hope to bring those objections down to a minimum, and to learn something of value for future improvements from those remaining objections which can be proven valid. We will attempt to do so by raising the most common questions which often arise after something which can be considered a ‘contest’ in nature.
Common questions from members of the public
Suspicion that the organizers had their winner/s picked out right from the beginning?
This is probably the most common sort of accusation, and encapsulates our own concerns as laid out in 1, 3, and 4 above. However, in the case of the SAMMA 2016, we believe such to have been impossible because the organizers have this year voluntarily approached people specifically not linked to themselves and requested outsider input. In most cases, these people who were approached could even be thought of as competitors to the organizers in terms of some of their own regular activities within the scene, and in the greater scheme of things would certainly have a conflicting agenda with the organizers and co-panel members in terms of ‘who’ should be positioned ‘how’.
We are satisfied that a strong enough effort was made by the organizer in this regard, evidenced by the fact that the original panel should have consisted of six unconnected members. This evidence is further strengthened by our observation that the whole process was halted between 16 March and 03 April owing to only three of the original six having submitted their nominations by deadline. After still not submitting after an extension, a seventh unconnected panel member was drafted so as to bring the submitted nominations up to a minimum requirement of four panel members before proceeding. Furthermore, this additional panel member was suggested and approved by the responsive members already serving on the panel, and not by the organizer. The process only resumed on 03 April when she had submitted her list as the fourth received.
We can find no evidence that reasonably suggests The SAMMA Organiser had engineered a definitive outcome.
Suspicion that members of The SAMMA Panel colluded in order to achieve a desired outcome?
This is a common accusation and merits discussion, and could potentially fall within the boundaries of all four of our concerns listed above. In this case, we are satisfied that the nominations reflected a fair and varied process where collusion was highly unlikely.
All nominations were sent directly to us as the Independent Observer and members of The SAMMA Panel were strictly instructed to not discuss their nominations among each other before the complete summary of all nominations was presented back to them on 29 April (so far after the initial submissions received on 06 April, because the Independent Observer had to remove any non-qualified nominations and deal with each panel member individually to give them an opportunity to fill their disqualified candidates slots, of which there were many in the first round).
We are satisfied that all had respected this rule based on the wide variables from all panel member’s sets of nominations as compared with each other when the final nominations were received (see summary below). Particularly telling was the order of priority each panel member listed their nominations in, so even when overlaps occurred (as can be reasonably expected), such overlaps appeared random. Once received and compiled into a single list, a complete summary was presented to all panel members on 29 April, which each had to verify that their results had not been tampered with by us as the Independent Observer.
Further evidence to the integrity of the panel is how, after the public voting presented a filtered list of only five nominations per category (thus having attained the public assistance in narrowing the selections down and ferreting out potentially unwise or biased opinions by panel members), each panel member was again instructed to submit an ordered (ordered by priority for victory) list containing all five of the remaining nominees in each category (even though they might not have originally nominated some of the items appearing to them at this stage). Again, the often widely varied results offered satisfactory indication that no collusion had occurred.
NOTE: this section of the report will be expanded upon only after the winners of this year’s awards have been declared. Expect to see additional info on the final procedure on Monday 13 June
Suspicion that an individual person in an authoritative position (organizer/panel member/observer) may have unduly empowered a nominee towards benefit which they are somehow connected to.
This is probably one of the more warranted accusations that could be laid against an individual serving in a position of authority in the SAMMA and is a very valid area for concern by others. So much so, in fact, that some of the nominated actually requested to be removed from the lists. Again, this visits our own concerns as laid out in 1 and 4 above which were prerequisite to metal4africa serving as the Independent Observer and can hopefully alleviate fears in the future. In such case, a person of authority can be reasonably expected to indeed hold some sense of bias towards the final outcome and such bias should not be allowed to prevail. We had to find a faith in the system that every reasonable measure had been set into place to combat this.
We feel confident that the methods dictated by the system employed this year have served as best as they can to reasonably dismantle any unfair advantage to be gained by such affiliations. Members on the panel were not allowed to place a nomination related to any activity with which they themselves were directly involved. They were expected to accept that if their affiliation truly was worthy of an award, then it would be likely that at least one other panel member would list it as a nomination without any goading. In the one or two exceptions where we did see this occur as a misinterpretation of instructions, we disqualified those nominations and allowed the panel members an opportunity to re-submit a valid nomination.
Furthermore, neither The SAMMA Organizer nor the Independent Observer were entitled to submit any nominations of their own; plus the public voting process had ensured to further root out any potentially suspicious listing by any member of The SAMMA Panel.
Suspicion that nominees may have bought, or unfairly manipulated their way into a position of victory?
Another common accusation to occur. Since we at metal4africa are also largely musicians, we also like to know that a system is in place which prevents nominees from acquiring a favourable position by means of money rather than merit, as outlined in our concern number 2 above.
It is a fact that people with access to money have got the potential to take their endeavours further than those without, regardless of actual ability or talent. But what about those who are talented in their music and are smart in how they use the resources at their disposal? Why should a factor such as business savvy not be factored in to determining the overall quality, potential, and award-worthiness of a band? As the Independent Observer, we had to find faith in a system which both merits and discredits this advantage; hence the public voting section of the procedure.
Definitely, bands with strong social reach and/or access to financial resources will have benefited in this area. However, we have found our faith in the use of this system because of the facts that the poll results were 1) never shown to the public or to members of The SAMMA Panel prior to the final results being known (ie: at this time of first publishing, the results of public voting are still known only to The SAMMA Organizers and the Independent Observer – although they will become public knowledge shortly), and 2) therefore do not dictate or influence the final results in any way except for narrowing down the number of nominations per category.
Suspicion that certain potential nominees were deliberately excluded from even the smallest consideration as a means of fixing an end result.
This will possibly reflect the biggest point of contention among those whose names do not appear in the nominations listing.
We are satisfied that enough evidence suggests that there was no foul play along these lines. The SAMMA Panel consists of people from diverse corners of the local scene. The SAMMA organizers sought to have a larger, even more diverse panel than what was ultimately represented; although not all who were invited did take advantage of the opportunity. The point of this assemblage of a panel was specifically to draw from a larger national knowledge-base which would be more likely to recognize outstanding activity from within the year’s date range.
Whilst there will absolutely be some surprise by the lack of certain names on the nominations lists, one needs to also track back through the relevant date range and observe what level of activity those missing names engaged in. Often, there was very little. Therefore, we are satisfied that the panel by-and-large had submitted mostly relevant and sufficiently diverse nominees and there is no evidence to suggest deliberate exclusion.
However, that being said, we at metal4africa have also strongly recommended to The SAMMA Organizer and the members of The SAMMA Panel that this area of knowledge-base needs urgent and immediate attention so as to pave the way for a more thorough and inclusive process in the years to follow. After all, nominations can only be placed on behalf of those who are in the knowledge-base shared by the collective of panel members, and need to have impressed in the relevant categories.
As the Independent Observer, we endorse that the results were achieved in a systematic way, and every reasonable measure to eliminate bias and/or foul play was enforced. It is now up to each member of the public to make up their own minds on these matters.
2016 SAMMA Award Winners and runner up
NOTE: The results achieved do not necessarily reflect the opinion of metal4africa and/or any of it’s contributors.
2016 Award for Best Newcomer: Devilspeak
Runner up: Lesuth
2016 Award for Best Single: Facing The Gallows (Filth)
Runner up: (tied result) Red Helen (Suicide Notes and Bloodshot Eyes) / Zombies Ate My Girlfriend (The Spear)
2016 Award for Best Music Video: Facing The Gallows (Filth)
Runner up: (tied result) Adorned In Ash (Broken Glass reflection) / Raptorbaby (The Lost)
2016 Award for Best EP Release: Ohgod (Forest Feuds)
Runner up: (tied result) Peasant (Circles) / The Overmind (Dissolution)
2016 Award for Best Metal Album: Zombies Ate My Girlfriend (Retrocide)
Runner up: Wargrave (Suffering The Void)
2016 Award for Best Live Act: Boargazm
Runner up: Red Helen
2016 Award for Best Alternative Metal: Ohgod
Runner up: Riddlebreak
2016 Award for Best Thrash Metal: Wargrave
Runner up: Infanteria
2016 Award for Best Black Metal: Theatre Runs Red
Runner up: Wildernessking
2016 Award for Best Core Metal: Facing The Gallows
Runner up: Red Helen
2016 Award for Best Death Metal: Bleeding Spawn
Runner up: Vulvodynia
2016 Award for Best Metal Event: Krank’d Up
Runner up: Emalyth Arts Expo 7: The Rapture