Photo: Billy Talent performs “Afraid of Heights” at The 2017 JUNO Awards (top), Jim Cuddy and Buffy Sainte-Marie present Album of the Year Presented by Music Canada to Leonard Cohen (left).
What started as the RPM Gold Leaf Awards in 1964 by RPM editor and publisher Walt Grealis and record label executive Stan Klees, soon became The JUNO Awards in 1971. Named in tribute to Pierre Juneau, the first chairperson of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the JUNO Awards were founded to raise the public profile and recognition of musical artists in Canada.
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) was formed in 1975 to oversee the annual JUNO Awards ceremony. CARAS has since become the umbrella not-for-profit organization for The JUNO Awards, MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity, and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Before CARAS, the winners of the JUNO Awards were selected by RPM readers, but with the creation of the Academy, voting was now exclusive to CARAS members in the Canadian music industry. Within one year of its inception, CARAS boasted over six-hundred members and took over the administration of the awards system created by founders Grealis and Klees. CARAS has been an integral part of the Canadian music industry with a mandate to promote and celebrate Canadian music and artists.
In 1989, CARAS began awarding annual scholarships to exceptional graduates enrolled in post-secondary Music Industry Arts Programs. In 1997 CARAS instituted the Band Aid Grant program and soon the charitable arm of CARAS was known as MusiCounts. Since 1997, nearly $8,000,000 will have been awarded to help support music education in Canada. These funds have impacted over 700 school communities from coast to coast, supported over 330 post-secondary music program graduates and honoured 10 extraordinary music teachers through the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award.
CARAS’ dedication to the growth and enrichment of the Canadian music industry led to the development of The Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class. In 2015, CARAS teamed up with Slaight Music to create the premier artist development program in Canada. The Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class serves as a bridge between the two key pillars of CARAS: music education through MusiCounts and the celebration and promotion of excellence through The JUNO Awards. This program fills the gap between them by providing the crucial tools to help new and emerging artists become “JUNO-ready”.
The JUNO Awards
The JUNO Awards were first broadcast in 1975 on CBC from The Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto with Paul Anka as the host. In 1977, the awards show switched from a theatre setting to a dinner-show format at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The Canadian Music Hall of Fame was created in 1978 and Oscar Peterson and Guy Lombardo (posthumously) were the first inductees to be honoured that year at the JUNO Awards. Each year boasted attendance by prominent Canadian figures such as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray, and Alan Thicke. From 1984 to 1987, the JUNO Awards were switched from a spring date to the fall. In 1988 the Academy regrouped to switch the show back to the spring, consequently they decided to cancel the 1988 JUNO Awards. In 1995, the JUNO Awards were transformed from an industry function to a public ticketed event. The 1995 JUNOS were hosted in Hamilton at the Copps Coliseum and attracted over 10,000 people. In 2002, CTV became the new official broadcast partner of The JUNO Awards. That same year, CARAS took the show on the road, taking the event to cities all across the country. The JUNO Awards have evolved into a week-long festival with many public and private events leading up to the broadcast awards show.
Nominating and Voting Process
Determining the JUNO nominees and winners is a multi-step process which takes hundreds of experts and many months to complete. The first step requires a body of work to be submitted, each submission is then reviewed by JUNO Awards staff to ensure it meets the eligibility criteria. Once a submission is verified, the music in each category is listened to by the corresponding Music Advisory Committee to confirm it has been submitted in the correct genre. The nominees are then determined by using a variety of different metrics based on the category. These metrics include sales figures, streaming data, Next Big Sound statistics, judge votes and Academy Delegate votes. Once the five nominees are announced, the judges and Academy Delegates vote to determine the winners that are announced at the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards and the JUNO Awards Broadcast. Learn more about the JUNO Awards Submissions process.