Indie label-signed artists dominated the shortlist of the inaugural Australian Music Prize, details for which were unveiled today (Feb. 6) in Sydney.

Indie label-signed artists dominated the shortlist of the inaugural Australian Music Prize, details for which were unveiled today (Feb. 6) in Sydney.

Singer songwriter Ben Lee's "Awake Is The New Sleep" (Five Fingers/Inertia), atmospheric alt-rockers the Devastations' "Coal" (In-Fidelity) and pop rockers the Drones' "Wait Long By The River and the Bodies Of Our Enemies Will Float By" (ATP Recordings) are among the nominated albums.

The winner will be chosen by a panel of 61 judges from the music industry and announced March 8 at an invite-only gathering at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Former Midnight Oil singer-turned-politician Peter Garrett will be keynote speaker.

The eight albums have been selected from a longlist of 221 self-nominated Australian entries released in 2005.

"It's a very strong list which shows how diverse the Australian music scene is," AMP founder Scott Murphy tells Billboard.biz.

He added, "There were about 12 other albums which missed out by a minute fraction and were equally as good."

Murphy, former managing director of Zomba Records Australia, set up the AMP as the local equivalent of Britain's Mercury Prize.

Negotiations have begun with free-to-air TV and cable channels such as MTV and Channel V to run special broadcasts on the nominated artists. Various retailers will sticker the shortlisted records with the AMP logo.

The A$25,000 ($18,650) prize is donated by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia which licenses broadcast and public performances on behalf of recording labels and artists.