Germany’s Music Industry Association has pulled the plug on its most prestigious awards, the Echo Music Awards, long likened to the Grammys. The decision comes after the Echo Awards received considerable criticism for presenting a rap duo with the best Hip Hop/Urban Prize for an album containing anti-Semitic lyrics.

Kollegah and Farid Bang. Photo © DAP

The prize, which is based on sales figures, went to Kollegah and Farid Bang’s Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3 (Young, Brutal, Good-Looking 3). In their song 0815, one of the lyrics claims that their bodies are “more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates”, while another track contains the lyric “make another Holocaust, show up with a Molotov”. The Awards have also been criticised for its poor timing, with the ceremony – at which the pair performed 0815 – coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“The Echo brand is so badly damaged that a complete new beginning is necessary,” the Music Industry Association said on Wednesday afternoon.

A number of prominent artists have returned their own Echo awards to protest Kollegah and Farid Bang’s win. Conductor Christian Thielemann and his orchestra the Staatskapelle Dresden returned their awards, saying in a public statement that...