The AIM Independent Music Awards will become the first large-scale music awards ceremony to go virtual, creating a truly immersive, digital experience for attendees.
As a community that greatly celebrates social and cultural diversity, AIM’s shortlist for the 2020 AIM Awards spans rap, drill and electronic music to rock and jazz, in their most eclectic nominee list yet.
We asked AIM chief executive Paul Pacifico to take us behind the scenes to discuss the 2020 edition of the AIM Independent Music Awards.
'It’s been an incredibly busy few months for AIM stepping up to the plate to support our members and the wider industry that has been suffering as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.
'As the pandemic goes on, we’ve had to adapt and react to it. Thanks to the amazing generosity of the independent community, we were recently able to extend the period of lost work covered by our Covid-19 Crisis Fund. Many people throughout the industry, particularly those working in our £4.5bn live sector and those who are self-employed and don’t qualify for government support, have been left in the lurch and are still facing tough months ahead. Some of the messages of thanks and feedback we’ve received has been very powerful. Those moments can give a real sense of purpose to the work of an organisation like ours and an insight into the real impact we can have.'
'Some of the messages of thanks and feedback we’ve received has been very powerful. Those moments can give a real sense of purpose to the work of an organisation like ours and an insight into the real impact we can have.'
'Now the tenth anniversary edition and first ever virtual AIM Awards is just a month away. We hope it can provide a moment of respite for the independent sector, a coming-together and celebration of the resilience of our community and the amazing work that goes on to foster some of the most talented and creative artists in the world.
'This year we have a hugely eclectic and diverse list of nominees spanning the full spectrum of genres and ranging from the grassroots to very established artists. Digga D and Moses Boyd, a drill and jazz artist are leading the pack, followed by Hania Rani – a polish pianist, psychedelic RnB singer Greentea Peng and electronic pioneers Flying Lotus and Floating Points. It’s been very exciting to see who the judges went for this year, and it really reinforced the depth and diversity of independent music.
'When it became clear that a physical event wouldn’t be possible any time soon, we decided to adapt the awards to a virtual format as quickly as possible rather than cancelling. For us, it was crucial to provide this moment for the community and all of the many partners we have involved with the event.'
The virtual event
'Now we've got a fleshed-out idea of the possibilities for a virtual event of this scale – and suffice to say there are some very exciting moments lined up for this year. We’re working closely with our production partners to deliver a fully immersive experience which will feature an amazing line-up of performances, including our first to be announced, the supremely talented Arlo Parks who is one of the most exciting rising stars in the scene.
'We hope it can provide a moment of respite for the independent sector, a coming-together and celebration of the resilience of our community and the amazing work that goes on to foster some of the most talented and creative artists in the world.'
'Alongside the nominees, we’ve also announced that the legendary Tony Allen will posthumously receive this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Music award, which we hope will be a fitting tribute to a man who has left behind such a vast musical legacy. In the coming weeks we’ll also be announcing the winners of the Innovator and Pioneer awards in the build-up to the ceremony on the 12th August so keep your eyes peeled.'
'This year we’ve chosen The Roundhouse as our charity partner. In 2019 we moved the awards to their iconic venue Camden venue for the first time, which was undoubtedly a huge moment. Even though we can’t return this year, by choosing them as our charity partner we hope we can showcase some of the amazing work that they do with young people as an organisation. For young people growing up and hoping to start out in a music career now, it can be more confusing and uncertain than ever, so they’re doing hugely important work for this time. I’m a great admirer of the sense of community they’ve created there and it’s a real pleasure to be able to support them.
'The huge struggle faced by so many has been equally met by their innovation and tenacity to get through it.'
'The whole sector is still facing great challenges as the pandemic goes on. We’ve done everything we can to support Music Venue Trust’s crucial and brilliant #SaveOurVenues campaign, and later UK Music’s #LetTheMusicPlay. It was positive to see the Government respond to these with a support package for arts and culture, but the key challenge is now to ensure that funds are distributed to the full spectrum of organisations that truly need them by The Arts Council.'
The silver lining
'Despite all the negativity the crisis has wrought, it’s still amazing to see the level of creativity and innovation in the independent sector. We’re a community of entrepreneurs who are used to being nimble and adapting when we have to – and this has been no different. The huge struggle faced by so many has been equally met by their innovation and tenacity to get through it. That is why the awards are so important - to celebrate these values and continue to foster a sense of community and unity through music at a time when, perhaps, we need it more than ever.'
Find out more about this year’s event at aimawards.co.uk