Daan and Absynthe Minded were the big winners at Belgium's Music Industry Awards, organized by the Muziekcentrum Vlaanderen and the Flemish public broadcaster VRT.

The annual event, staged for the third time on Jan. 8, highlights domestic talent and music releases of the past year (Dec. 1 2008 to Dec. 1 2009) and is considered the premier measure of the local music industry. Both the public and industry professionals participated in the nominations and voting for the 16 MIA awards, handed out during a live TV show, hosted by former MTV Belgium host Marcel Vanthilt.

Daan Struyven - known as "Daan" - picked up four gongs. He was awarded by the music professionals for the artwork of the album "Manhay" and best author/composer. The public backed Daan for best video ("Exes") and best male solo. Daan is the project initiated by singer-songwriter Struyven, backed by his XL-band. "Manhay" (PIAS) is Daan's fifth album.

Absynthe Minded won the 2009 song of the year award for "Envoi," best band, best alternative rock and best album" for "Absynthe Minded" (Keremos/PIAS). Signed to EMI Music Publishing, Absynthe Minded won ahead of former winners Clouseau.

Jasper Erkens received the award for best breakthrough artist. Erkens is currently in the chart with the single "The Brighter Story"(PIAS).

Lady Linn collected two awards - in the best pop and best female solo categories, beating singers Axelle Red and Natalia. Pianist Jef Neve was named best musician.

The MIA awards also kicked off the "Week van de Vlaamse Muziek" (Flemish Music Week) on the public broadcaster's channels with the live broadcast on radio and TV of the MIA ceremony, new single and album presentations of Mintzkov, Absynthe Minded, Admiral Freebee, Fixkes and Arid on StuBru and increased attention for domestic talent on Radio 2, KlaRa and pop channel MNM.

On the occasion of the MIA awards ceremony, the Belgian Entertainment Association industry group (BEA) pleaded for a more export-oriented music policy.

"In the past decade, only few Belgian artists, like dEUS, Vaya Con Dios, Kate Ryan, Milow, Axelle Red and Helmut Lotti, achieved top 10 status abroad," said the BEA in a press statement. "We want to secure the employment in, and economic growth of the Belgian music industry by implementing an active promotion and export policy abroad."

Olivier Maeterlinck, chairman of BEA, said that the government should look into measures like stimulation of (music) export via tax shelter regulations, in addition to the enforcement of the copyright legislation.

"We [should] think about putting in place 'export offices' backing successful domestic talent in promotion abroad and the launch of a Flemish music fund, like the similar instruments for the promotion of films and literature," Maeterlinck said.