I attended my first ever awards ceremony this week, organised by the Association of Independent Music (AIM), a body that I have been a member of since Debt Records was founded in 2009. I was shortlisted for the Independent Entrepreneur award for work with Debt and Un-Convention.
It was a hugely enjoyable event. I didn’t win but I never believed I would so it certainly didn’t blight my evening. That particular award went to former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde, a man who has been in the business at least three times as long as I have, both as a musician and as head of the massively successful Bella Union label (home to bands like Fleet Foxes, Dirty Three, M.Ward etc). I think I still have a way to go yet!
I shared a table with Warp Records (Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, Brian Eno etc) and had an interesting discussion with them about streamlining and monetizing youtube content but not at the expense of people’s experience of an artist’s work (for example, if someone uses a copyrighted work to soundtrack a personal birthday message to a friend it would be bad form to issue a take down notice – which is what, allegedly, the likes of Warner Brothers do). Good to know that long-established labels like Warp still believe in the personal touch. There’s hope!
The food was good and the room had a nice easy vibe from where I was sitting. As the nominations were read out there were cheers from different parts of the audience as alliances and sub-divisions of the independent sector made themselves known. I didn’t expect much of a reaction to my name as I’m something of a new kid on the block but the guys at Warp gave me a big cheer so that was nice!
Over the course of the evening we saw awards go to both upcoming and long established practitioners spread over a huge range of styles and backgrounds, winners ranging from relatively unknown promoters to global superstars like Adele. I had a chat with Tom Robinson, a songwriter who I admire to an almost acolyte degree (not to mention someone who has helped my band The Bedlam Six a lot over the years through his 6Music shows and web presence). I also briefly met Edwyn Collins who won the Extraordinary Contribution To Music award. Without doubt the most deserved win of the evening.
But it wasn’t an evening to be pressing business cards into the hands of strangers, so I didn’t concern myself with “working the room” or “making the most of it” – I just enjoyed the experience of being among my peers at a rare industry event in which no one was lamenting the baffling frontier-land of the internet age, condemning the file-sharers that signal “the death of the music industry” or discussing new ways to put walls around copyrighted material – it was all positive, we were celebrating achievements rather than bemoaning change.
And it was good to have a bit of a dance afterwards too!