The announcement of the Australian Music Prize (AMP) shortlist will be a much grander affair than in previous years, and will be revealed before a festival audience of 10,000. In the first three years of the contest, the acts chosen by the 23 media, retail and artist judges on the shortlist were made before just 300 invite-only music industry guests.

However, the Feb. 8, 2009 announcement will be made on the main stage of the St. Kilda Festival in Melbourne, while a shortlisted act will mark the occasion with a performance. Broadcaster Channel [V] will be on hand to film the event.

"The idea was Channel [V]'s, who are covering both the AMP and the St. Kilda Festival," AMP prize director Tracey Grimson tells Billboard.biz. "They saw it as a good opportunity to widen its profile. We agreed. The time is right. The music industry is already aware of the AMP and now we should increase its awareness with the public."

Shaun James, Sydney-based general manager of Channel [V]'s parent XYZ Networks said in a statement, "In coming on board as media partner, it was our objective to promote the AMP outside of the music industry, taking it to the public. We felt that the St. Kilda Festival would be the perfect arena to reveal the Shortlist and a fantastic opportunity for one of the finalists to perform in front of an audience of thousands of music lovers. Channel [V] will also continue to promote the AMP to a wider audience on-air."

Last year AMP drew 180 entries. Organizers maintain that increasing the profile of the shortlisted artists is as important as the winner who emerges. Channel [V] profiles each shortlisted nominee in the run-up, and some retailers sticker their releases in-store.

The AMP, which is based on Britain's Mercury Music Prize, rewards the most creative Australian album released within the 2008 calendar year. Its cash prize of $30,000 Australian ($20,684) is donated by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia, which issues public broadcast licenses to 47,000 companies and venues across Australia.

AMP organizers today also said that key sponsor Red Bull returns for the third time; the drinks firm will provide a $15,000 Australian ($10,340) boost to one of the shortlisted artists.

Last year's recipient, Sydney-based Bluejuice, used the cash for pre-production for its next release, says band member Stavros Yiannoukas.

The AMP winner will be announced in mid-March, in Sydney. The date, and any change of format, has not been confirmed.