Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

by Jim Testa
April 16, 2018

I had off today so I Googled the 2018 Asbury Music Awards (which took place on Thursday, April 12) looking for a list of the winners. Couldn't find one anywhere. That made me wonder what kind of coverage the awards received this year, especially after (and PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong on this,) despite postponing the awards from November to April, no one involved with the AMA's seemed to find the time to email ballots, invite nominees, or even send out a single press release. The event was just posted to Facebook, regardless of the fact the FB's infamous algorithms mean that only a small percentage of potential viewers see any particular post.

There were 13 nominees for "Best Website/Facebook Supporting Live Music" this year. I still have no idea who won, so I decided to take a look and see how these nominees (which presumably do the best job of writing about Asbury music) covered the awards.

Let's talk about who received a nominatiion first:'s music page hasn't been updated since 2014. is a merchandising company that has nothing to do with music journalism. They were both nominated. The Penguin Rocks changed its name to Asbury years ago and is an online radio station (for which there is a separate category.) The URL for was misspelled as (In the Top Journalist category, Bobby Olivier of was listed as Bobby Oliver.) Jay Lustig's NJ Arts Daily ( wasn't nominated at all, although Lustig received a nom for Top Journalist In Support Of Live Music, which makes no sense.

I checked every nominec wesbite. None of them mentioned the awards this year, including past winner and multiple nominee Speak Into My Good

Of the nominated Facebook pages, "Support Live Music in Asbury" shared a Megan Kelly post (she's a booker at The Saint) announcing the Awards. "New Jersey Metal" had a post thanking the AMA's for their nomination but no coverage of the event or any mentions of other nominees.

Two Facebook pages that weren't nominated, "Overheard In Asbury" and "Asbury Punk," both of which function largely as message boards, didn't mention the AMA's either.

The Asbury Park Press ran a well-researched story by Chris Jordan about the AMA's failure to recognize local hip hop as part of the Asbury music scene ( entertainment/music/2018/04/11 /asbury-music-awards-rap-freeze-out-irks-city-hip-hop-community/508480002/), inspired by a controversial and widely discussed Facebook post by musician and hip hop promoter Chris Rockwell. (Rockwell's post is available on Gary Wien's Beyond that story, there is no coverage of the actual event, which you'd think would be a fairly big story in terms of both the winners and the live performances for the daily newspaper of Asbury Park. According to Facebook, Jordan attended the event but doesn't seem to have posted anything either with APP or on his own personal Facebook page. A search of didn't turn up any other stories on the awards more recent than 2015.

(Scott Stamper, owner of The Saint and the Asbury Music Awards, did not respond to Jordan's request for an interview; but at the last minute, the AMA's quietly and surreptitiously changed the "Top Soul/R&B" category on the ballot to "Top Soul/R&B/Hip Hop" and added a few candidates and promised there would be a full Hip Hop category next year.)

Bobby Olivier, who covers Asbury and other Central and South Jersey music scenes for (and whose name was misspelled on the Top Journalist ballot,) didn't post anything on the Awards. (For the record, I covered the AMA's in 2011 and 2012 for the Newark Star-Ledger and that seems to be the last time they merited a story on

A search of The Aquarian's website didn't find any AMA coverage after 2015., a Top Website nominee this year, did a little better; they had a story from 2016.

For the record, Jim Appio, the editor of and a past AMA winner, is in Japan with the Rock N Roll Hi-Fives and was unavailable to cover the event this year.

Michelle Gladden of the Asbury Park Sun wrote a preview story on the AMA's. Ms. Gladden doesn't appear to be on Facebook so I couldn't ask her if she's doing a follow up story with the winners, but it seems unlikely, since there's nothing from earlier years available.. Don Stine at The Coaster (who also doesn't seem to have a Facebook page) gave a sole mention of the AMA's in a calendar listing. (The Tri-City News doesn't post its content online so I wasn't able to check on their coverage.)

There have been many criticisms - including my own - of the Asbury Music Awards almost since their inception. "It's nothing but a cash cow for The Saint." "It's all a big clique." "There's no transparency on how anyone is nominated or how the voting works." In my opinion, those are all valid. But why hold the event at all if no effort is going to be made to publicize the event, alert the nominees, promote fair balloting, or encourage the local music press to cover it? (While we're at it, why was abandoned? It hasn't been updated in several years.) Everyone at the Stone Pony on April 10 (and I hear it was very well attended) might have had a great night, but is that all this is supposed to be about? The bands who performed got almost nothing out of it, for what should have been a high-exposure gig, and the winners are going unrecognized by anyone who wasn't actually at the show. Everybody needs to do a little better next year, or why bother?


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