Continuing in the tracks of last year's edition, the 22nd French Victoires de la Musique, held March 10 at the Paris Zenith, cast a spotlight on young artists.

Benabar, Olivia Ruiz and Grand Corps Malade were the big winners, wining two categories each.

Benabar won for best male artist, and best song with "Le Diner". Benabar, 37, is regarded as one of the early leaders of the new French chanson. His most recent album, "Reprise des Négociations" from November 2005, has shipped more than 800,000 copies to-date, according to his label Jive Epic. A price-cutting campaign a year on has helped revive the album's fortunes, and returned the set into the French top 10.

Olivia Ruiz, 27, a member of the inaugural French TV reality series "Star Academy" in 2001, won for best female artist and best music show/best tour.

Since her "Star Academy" break, Ruiz been busy developing her profile. Her 2006 album "La Femme Chocolat" has shipped over 450,000 copies, according to Polydor/Universal.

Grand Corps Malade, 29, took out two "new talent" awards on the night. He helped make "slam" popular in France with debut album "Midi 20", which has shipped more than 500,000 copies since its March 2006 release, according to Anouche Production/AZ/Universal.

"This 22nd edition of the Victoires celebrated of generation of 25-35 year old [artists] who are taking their place with no fear," Gilles Bressand, CEO of indie label XIIIbis Records and chairman of this year's event, tells

The Victoires best pop album award went to the musical "Le Soldat Rose", written by veteran artist Louis Chedid and Pierre-Dominique Burgaud. Out last November, the album has shipped 315,000 copies, according to its indie label Atmospheriques.

Two legends of French chanson, Juliette Greco and Michel Polnareff, were feted in recognition of their outstanding careers.

And in one of the big surprises at the Victoires, multi-platinum rap female artist Diam's failed to convert any of her four nominations.

The 15 Victoires winners were decided by a 1,000-strong industry academy, except the best breakthrough artist category which was decided by public votes.

The ceremony featured 30 live performances. According to ratings company Médiamétrie, the live broadcast on public channel France 2 attracted an average of 3.5 million viewers, down 700,000 from the previous year.

France 2 and the Victoires organization both expressed their satisfaction, noting a 26.2% market share within the 15-34 demographic.

In the past, the event has proved a powerful tool for the music business, generating major sales spikes for the artists featured. "The Victoires are now finally almost unanimously celebrated by the music industry," comments Bressand.

Local repertoire continues to perform well in a depressed French market. Local repertoire represented 61% of the wholesale market in 2006, with the 10 best selling albums all home-grown, according to figures supplied by trade body SNEP.