The most prestigious prize in Australian music – fittingly titled the Australian Music Prize – has just made a bunch of announcements about its 2021 competition, including the news English folk icon Billy Bragg will be making a guest appearance on its judging panel.

We’re up to the 17th year of the coveted prize, and sponsor SoundMerch has, bless their socks, increased the winner’s pool to a whopping $30,000. Owner Tim Everist was pleased as punch to make the announcement: “Our partnership with The AMP last year worked exactly as I had hoped – SoundMerch was able to give back to the artists that we do business with whilst promoting new business, so this year I’m pleased to be able to increase the cash prize by $10,000 to $30,000,” he said. (That’s Everist on the right in our header image, pictured with last year’s AMP winners The Avalanches who beat out some stiff competition with their stunning album We Will Always Love You, our review of which you can read here.)

Meanwhile, Bragg found himself on board with the AMP judging panel (which consists of a pile of music industry professionals, including artists, radio broadcasters, record store owners, music writers and editors), and he’ll actually be in the country during the pointy end of the judging process; His One Step Forward, Two Steps Back tour will run from January 14 to February 10 next year. “Australia has given me so much encouragement and support over the years,” he says. “I’m pleased to have the opportunity to return some of that sentiment to up and coming Australian artists.”

And it’s no small feat he’s taken on; judges are currently listening to over 300 eligible albums, with more to come as titles are added right up to the end of the year. See all the currently nominated albums right here.

The final nine nominees for the prize will be announced in early 2022, with the winner revealed Thursday March 3, 2022.