Award inspired by U.K.'s Mercury Prize.

The Australian music business has united for the Australian Music Prize (AMP), an honor designed to promote domestic acts.

It plans to recognize the most creative Australian album of a calendar year. Winner will be awarded a cash prize of Australian $25,000 (US$19,000). The money is provided, initially for three years, by the collecting society Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA).

Scott Murphy, a music industry veteran of 25 years, is overseeing the prize. His posts have included managing director of Zomba Records Australia and Mushroom Distribution Services.

The prize entry is open Oct. 3 to Jan. 6, with Murphy expecting up to 350 entries in its first year. The short8 list will be announced February and the winner on March 8 at a cocktail party in Sydney.

Murphy acknowledges he was inspired by Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize, now in its 10th year. "Just ending up on the short list of the Mercury Prize gives a record an extra boost of publicity and esteem," Murphy tells Billboard.biz. "I am hoping that AMP has the same effect."

Murphy's patron steering committee of 12 includes labels heads, publishers, retailers, promoters, managers and musicians. The prize will be decided by 60 judges from all sectors. Murphy plans for the event to be broadcast and telecast live in a few years.

John O'Donnell, EMI Managing Director and PPCA Chairman, also one of AMP's patrons, emphasizes the importance of the prize is that it is purely based on creativity.

"Our judging criteria is not related to sales or fashion, but to quality songs and or performance," O'Donnell says. "The Amp will fill a void and encourage artists of all types."

Former Go Betweens drummer Liondy Morrison adds, "This could give acts on the fringes of the music industry important exposure."