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This was originally called the Mercury Music Prize and was established by the British Phonographic Industry as an alternative to the Brit Awards. The first ceremony took place in place in 1992. It's called the Mercury Prize because the first sponsors were Mercury Communications. It's now sponsored by car manufacturers Hyundai and is an annual award in the UK music industry for the best album released in the previous year.
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The prize is open to all types of music, including pop, rock, folk, urban, dance, jazz, blues, electronica and classical and is chosen by an independent panel of musicians, music executives, journalists and other figures in the British music industry..
The organisers have been criticised in the past, though, for not including enough jazz, blues and classical nominees while rock and metal bands often complain about being overlooked or handed ‘token’ nominations.
The winner takes home £20,000 as well as the potential of increased album sales and attention. Each shortlisted artist is given a specially commissioned Albums of the Year Trophy.