Scuba Diva has been announced as the winner of the NZ On Air Critics’ Choice Prize as part of the 2016 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

He was awarded the Prize after performing at the Tuning Fork in front of an enthusiastic live crowd and fellow finalists Kane Strang and SPYCC & INF.

Scuba Diva aka Auckland’s Jimmy Mac showcased his own brand of hi-fi alt pop – mixing elements of classic rock, 80’s electronic, funky-jazz fusion with a sprinkle of synth to top it all off.

He’s taking home a NZ On Air grant worth $8,000 to go towards recording a single or music video and $1,500 voucher for audio services from Stebbing Recording Centre.

He’ll also receive expert advice and professional guidance about working in the music industry from Lynda Parsons Entertainment Accounting, Eccles Entertainment and 12 months’ access to the Music Managers Forum – including one-on-one mentoring and access to educational resources.

Jimmy Mac says he’s thrilled to have been chosen as the 2016 Critics’ Choice Prize winner.

“Felt a bit like a sports competition, I’m very flattered, thanks everyone. I’m super stoked, every other band was super amazing.

“I want to thank Emma my wife, I didn’t really want to write songs but she pushed me on to do it. I also want to thank my band, they make it sound good,” he says.

The NZ On Air Critics’ Choice Prize is now in its seventh year and was created to identify and recognise our up-and-coming Kiwi musicians as future Tui award winners.

Previous shortlisted artists include The Naked and Famous, Janine and the Mixtape and Homebrew while the likes of Kimbra, Randa and Bespin have taken out the Prize

This year eligibility rules have changed to include artists who have already released an album, as long as the album hasn’t charted in the New Zealand Top 40.

Recorded Music NZ CEO Damian Vaughan says this has created a larger pool of upcoming talent eligible for the Critics’ Choice Prize.

“With this year’s shortlisted artists, we dug deep into what New Zealanders are listening to. From indie and rock through to electronic and hip hop, we’re showcasing the diversity and quality of the fresh talent on our shores.”

NZ On Air’s Head of Music and Radio David Ridler said discovering the new musical gems we have in New Zealand is an important element of the Music Awards season.

“The Critics’ Choice prize is a wonderful reminder that the lifeblood of our music ecology is bringing through exciting new talent – and all the surprises that they bring. It’s a great event and we’re very proud to be associated with it.”