Lethal Bizzle and manager Nadia Khan at the AIM Awards 2022.
The IMI 6th Oct 2022

'A win for one of us is a win for all of us': Key moments from The AIM Awards 2022

The UK's independent music community returned to The Roundhouse for the first time in two years to celebrate the year's biggest success stories, from Lethal Bizzle to The Libertines, TAAHLIA to Rough Trade...

The AIM Awards returned to The Roundhouse in person last week, with AIM’s CEO Paul Pacifico welcoming the UK’s independent music community after a challenging couple of years in absence.

You can read Pacifico’s welcome speech in full below and find a full list of winners here. Meanwhile, here are key quotes from the recipients of some of the night’s biggest awards.

Picking up his Outstanding Contribution Award, Lethal Bizzle said “It’s nice to get your flowers while you can still smell them,” before recognising some of the artists that have come before him and paying tribute to his manager of almost 20 years, Nadia Khan: “Thank you for your loyalty, your hard work and your dedication. I appreciate you.”

He also had a message for the new generation: “Unfortunately, this music game, it’s not designed for you to last 20 years. I hope my journey, inside and outside music, inspires you in some way so that, in 20 years, with your journey, you can further than I am now.”

Diversity Champion Stormzy: “We’ve always led with love. There’s a spirit among my team where we all share the same goals when it comes to having a platform and doing the positive work that we do. I encourage everyone in the room today to not just use ‘diversity’ as a buzz word. Whatever position you’re in, whatever role you play, be a driving factor for it. Don’t just see it as a quota or a box to tick. See the worth and the value.”

Local Action was recognised as the year’s Best Boutique Label, with founder Tom Lea saying via video message: “It’s really important to recognise that what makes the independent music sector, and what I identify with personally, is people doing really small DIY operations out of their bedrooms or at their day jobs. 12 years in now, we run bigger campaigns than we did and have bigger teams, but we’re still a very DIY operation. The heart of what we do is just me and a close-knit circle of friends putting out DIY art in a way that we believe. I like to think, in a way, this is a small victory for people doing just that because it’s you lot that makes this whole thing go round.

The Libertines with the Special Recognition Award.

The Libertines picked up the Special Recognition Award, with Pete Doherty paying tribute to Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis and Jeanette Lee “for believing in us 20 years ago”.

Gary Powell echoed Doherty’s thanks, adding, “Thank you to everyone who supports independent music. Without a sense of being independent, we’d all be follow fashion monkeys – that’s what my mum calls them, people who follow someone else. Don’t follow someone else, do your own thing!”


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To rapturous applause, TAAHLIA picked up the award for Best Independent EP/Mixtape, saying: “Angelica is such an autobiographical record and was my way of accepting and sharing my own experiences of the world. I hope that winning this award does not only reflect on me as an artist but also shines a light on how important it is for our marginalised identities to be recorded, cherished and recognised. I have no doubt there will be people in this room that believe I shouldn’t be here tonight. However, even in times when we’re made to feel like we shouldn’t be on this planet, being trans brings me so much love and joy. It brings me happiness and power – the power to continue living my life to the fullest and this record is a reflection of that.

Corey Johnson - Music Entrepreneur Of The Year.

Music Entrepreneur of the Year, Corey Johnson ended his acceptance speech with call to action for the music industry to invest more in rap music’s roots: “UK music, especially independent music, is becoming one of our biggest exports. Rap music helped pay the furlough! But, within the rap music scene, for me, there is only one problem: We don’t need H. Samuel shoppers. They want diamonds – beautiful artists, rare diamonds of talent that they are – but they don’t want to go to the mines and improve the conditions. When you’re generating millions of pounds from the industry, it’s being built from fraud and drugs. We need investment and support because, basically, a lot of rap music, worldwide, is built from crime.”

Rough Trade won Best Label on the night.

2022’s Best Independent Label was Rough Trade, with the legendary Jeanette Lee saying: “Thanks to all of the artists we’ve worked with over the years. It’s lovely to be here with The Libertines, who we’ve worked with for years. It’s great to still be friends after all this time. Thank you to Beggars who support us and are always with us. Thank you to this motley crew here.

[PIAS]'s Michel Lambot and Kenny Gates, with Beggars' Martin Mills on the red carpet ahead of the AIM Awards.

Independent Champions, Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot. Lambot reminisced about his youth, the experiences that inspired his music industry journey and the early principles that have remained with him throughout: “I don’t want to work for a boss. I want the music I like to be available everywhere, I want the artist to be fairly compensated for their work on a one-to-one relationship.”

Lambot paid tribute to his partner, their colleagues and the artists they have worked with together, as well as independent collectives around the world, which he called “critical for a viable independent ecosystem.”

Kenny Gates said of Lambot: “It’s been 40 years since I met this person, this man, this friend, this partner. It’s a very precious friendship and partnership.” He also helf particular thanks for Martin Mills, Daniel Miller, Lawrence Bell, Steve Becket and Peter Quicke “who stuck with us through the odds. And there have been a lot of odds.”

AIM CEO Paul Pacifico’s welcome speech in full

Hello and welcome to this incredible venue – london’s iconic Roundhouse for the 2022 AIM Independent Music Awards!

Honestly, it is so good to be back here together and in person.

The fact that we are is a testament to the strength of support we have from you – the UK’s independent music community and all our friends and partners.  Thank you for the trust you place in us.  AIM exists to serve, support and champion you and that is what tonight is all about!

So thank you to our sponsors and especially our Platinum Partners.  Thank you also to all the suppliers and supporters that make tonight possible especially Roundhouse, Forta, Rocket Food, Delta Sound, Name PR, Able, Duppy Share and Red Stripe. 

The first time we held the awards here, it was the culmination of a 3 year strategy – we called it the ‘Road to the Roundhouse’ – but this time, coming out of lock down, we did it in one – that is entirely down to the fantastic AIM team which just keeps going from strength to strength – I want you to take a moment please, to thank them for everything they have done for tonight and especially Esta and Simon in the events team and Serena on comms.  They and the whole of the rest of the team work tirelessly on this event – as they do across all of our activities throughout the year – let’s please give them a quick round of applause!

Before I get carried away, I do have a couple of housekeeping matters for you.  But you will be relieved to know, I won’t be talking for long as we have a lot to get through so we are all under strict instructions to keep all our speeches short.

As you may have noticed, we have not printed brochures for tonight’s event and this is just one of a number of initiatives to work towards making everything we do at AIM more sustainable.  The digital brochure for tonight’s event is available via the official AIM Awards App from your App Stores.

Other aspects of making the event more sustainable include the menu choices and also the wines from our friends at Garçon Wines who use sustainable packaging to reduce their environmental impact. Interestingly it also means the bottles can be posted through a standard letter box at, for example, Christmas time – just saying!

Last year, and as part of the range of renewed commitments we made to social justice, we launched the Diversity Champion Award.  To celebrate it, we made the plinth of all of our Awards last year, the LGBTQIA+ flag.  We have decided to build on that idea, so each year now, going forwards the AIM Award will include a reference to a different aspect of diversity to make sure all are included and recognised over time.

For this year, we are proud to include the symbol for Autistic Pride Day which uses the infinity symbol to recognise the broad and varied spectrum of experiences within neurodiversity, coloured as a rainbow to represent the pride movement.  Neurodiversity is a subject close to AIM’s heart with several neurodiverse members in the team the wider community and our families. Music can and should be a safe and enabling environment for people who think and experience the world differently. On that subject, we are proud to partner this year with the Liverpool-based Brain Charity, which offers help and practical support to anyone with a neurological condition and their families, friends and carers. I will be introducing you to them shortly, and please – if they ask for money, give generously – they are a small, but mighty charity.

My last and very practical item of housekeeping is for later. After the dinner and Awards, you are all going to be invited back up to the balcony for an after dinner drink while we get the room down here turned around and ready for the live show.  When we invite you upstairs, please do leave this room as quickly as you can so that we can open doors on time for the live show ticket holders.   If you are leaving your drink behind – don’t panic! There will be drinks upstairs and no guest will be left dry! But seriously, it would really help the team and make sure everything runs smoothly.

It is funny standing here – you all know this is my 6th and last AIM Awards as CEO. In some ways it feels like a lifetime. In other ways it feels like only yesterday that Alison Wenham asked me to take on the incredible privilege of leading AIM and representing the dynamic, diverse and powerful independent music community in the UK. And it was a great pleasure to be able to invite Alison tonight – welcome – and thank you for all you have done for me.  I have been grateful for all of your help and just the knowledge that throughout my journey here at AIM, you have always supported me and had my back.

The last couple of years have been challenging for sure and on top of the 1001 challenges to building and sustaining a music business in ordinary times (whatever they are!), we have been dealing with Brexit, Covid and of course the Streaming Inquiry.  As I reflect on all of those, and the challenges ahead, I am mindful that whatever our disagreements, there is much more that unites us than divides us in music, whichever stakeholder group or industry body we represent.  If we are to benefit from a strong sector that can support the increasing numbers of creators and entrepreneurs and provide platforms for social mobility and empowerment to diverse and under-represented voices, we have to work together better.  And there are signs of that in this room tonight, with friends and colleagues from across the creative and commercial parts of our sector – and all of us align around the belief in the power and the value of music.  Tonight I am really pleased to see friends from across UK Music: labels, artists, managers, services, suppliers, publishers, retailers, campaigners and for the first time, the BPI.  You are all most welcome. Let’s celebrate all aspects of music and work together for a music garden in which many flowers can bloom.

Before I leave the stage, there is one last thank you I would like to extend – to someone I can never quite thank enough, but who is here tonight, supporting me as she always does, through thick and thin – through the ups and downs of my journey as a music entrepreneur, my role at the Featured Artists Coalition and who has been by my side through every step of my journey at AIM. My wife, Sarah – thank you – Any successes I have had in this role or any others, are not mine, they are ours together.

But tonight is not about me, it is about us as a community, celebrating the incredible successes of the world-beating UK independent music sector – it is a hugely competitive market out there, but we understand that we are stronger together and a win for one of us is a win for all of us – so let’s make some noise for everyone tonight, and I for sure want to give huge congratulations to all of tonight’s nominees and winners, including of course our local heroes from all around the UK, selected in partnership with BBC Music Introducing. But just before we get to the trophies, it is my pleasure to introduce Nanette and Tui from the Brain Charity.