Spain's main music award ceremony, the Premios de la Música, will this year be held outside Madrid for the first time in its 11-year history.

The March 29 gala will be staged at the Gran Teatro in the southern city of Córdoba following two weeks of music-related events in the historic city.

The Premios de la Música is organized by the Academy of Music Arts and Sciences, run jointly by authors' society SGAE and artists' association AIE. An SGAE spokesman says the AMAS has decided that the gala will be itinerant, as is the SGAE's parallel award ceremony for theater, Premios Max. "It is important to involve directly Spain's different regions in the annual music awards ceremony," says the spokesman.

Córdoba was chosen as the first city outside Madrid because it has a history of racial and cultural tolerance traced back 1,000 years to when the city - with a current population of 300,000 -- had nearly one million inhabitants comprising Catholics, Jews and Muslims. Córdoba city hall is helping to organize the event.

Premios de la Música winners are chosen by 5,000 voters, among them authors, artists, journalists, and assorted music industry members. Labels' body Promusicae's rival Premios Amigo has not been staged as a gala since 2001 in protest at rampant piracy, which the IFPI says places Spain among the 10 worst affected countries in the world.

Radio network Cadena SER's Premios Ondas has an important music section, but the gala also includes awards to cinema, TV, radio and advertising.

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