The Australian Music Prize, or The AMP, is looking at rehauling its rules and guidelines, starting with scrapping the entry fee for artists to enter into consideration for the prize.

The Music, the official online partner of the AMP, reports that prize director Scott Murphy talked of plans to rework the entry system for this year’s award in the hopes that it will encourage a larger number of entrants, with a wider pool of artists and genres, to consider entering into the prize.

Originally formed in 2005, the AMP is considered the equivalent of the UK’s Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize, in that recognises an Australian artist with a cash prize based on the decision of a judging panel charged with selecting the Australian Album of the Year.

The inaugural winner was The Drones, for Wait Long By The River And The Bodies of You Enemies Will Float By in 2005. Other previous prize recipients include Augie March (for Moo, You Bloody Choir in 2006), Lisa Mitchell (for Wonder in 2009) and The Jezabels, who took home $30,000 donated by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited (PPCA).

Last year’s awards ceremony was also the first in which the public could attend the announcement of the AMP winner. Held in March last year, at Sydney’s iconic music venue, The Basement (which has just been put up for public sale) the event was made open to the public, keynote speaker, industry professionals and, of course, the AMP nominees.

The changes to this year’s entry guidelines signals a further push to making the music prize as democratic as possible. While Murphy stated that the prize regularly undergoes annual “tweaks”, the changes could be in response to the mild controversy surrounding The Jezabels’ win last year with Prisoner.

The backlash arose from concerns that the prize was bestowed upon a band that had already received widespread attention, was contrary to the independent ideals of the AMP. Even forcing the quartet to issue a statement with their acceptance of the 2010 prize, stating:

“What is clear throughout all the difference of opinion, regarding both the politics of the prize and musical tastes, is that The AMP is made up of people who care a great deal about Australian music and the importance of maintaining the ideals that the prize has come to represent, the encouragement of excellence and quality in Australian albums, regardless of their popularity or success, but to also recognise that those things are not mutually exclusive.”

Along with the new ‘free entry’ policy, Murphy’s ‘tweaks’ also reportedly include an extension to the judging period for this year’s award, later than the typical September/October period. A full announcement of the new entry process is to be delivered next week.