A2IM re-ups Dr. Richard James Burgess as organization’s President and CEO

Lisa Hresko Promoted to General Manager & Sheryl Cohen to Head of Strategic Planning

New York , 1st December 2021

The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) has announced that Dr. Richard James Burgess’ contract as President and CEO has been renewed for a third term. Under Burgess, who took the helm of the organization in January 2016, A2IM has seen 28% membership growth. He will continue his work in advocacy, education, and community across the independent music industry — including continuing the fight for diversity and gender equality as well as equal pay policies.

“The recorded music industry is at an inflection point. We are faced with the maturation of the streaming business model in the U.S. and the ongoing challenge of preserving the value of copyrights,” said Richard James Burgess. “A2IM will be at the forefront of leveling the playing field for independents and returning more of the value generated by recorded music to its creators and investors.”

Prior to stepping up as CEO of A2IM, Burgess served on the board for two and a half years and was chair of the board for the last six months of 2015. He was promoted to President and CEO in the 2019 renewal. Burgess’s current contract, which commences in January 2022, will run for four years.

In his time at A2IM, Burgess has guided the team as they have launched and championed groundbreaking initiatives and changes. One of the organization’s key focuses has been bringing greater diversity to the independent music industry. In 2018, A2IM was the first U.S.-based organization to sign on to the Keychange pledge that encouraged festivals to achieve 50:50 gender balance by 2022. A2IM had already gender-balanced and diversified all of its events, including the largest independent music conference in the world, A2IM Indie Week, and the largest independent music awards show, the A2IM Libera Awards. The A2IM Board and staff is also now gender-balanced and diversified.

Early 2021 saw the launch of the Black Independent Music Accelerator (BIMA), a fellowship grant program designed to amplify Black voices in the independent music community. The initiative provides a platform for Black-owned businesses in the music industry, delivering greater visibility, networking, and mentorship opportunities for burgeoning business owners.

Burgess has also worked to create robust leadership within the organization, with two key promotions in 2021 aimed at expanding membership and growing A2IM’s lineup of educational and networking programs within the independent music community. In her four years with A2IM, Lisa Hresko has spearheaded growing A2IM’s membership team and developing flagship programs. She was promoted to GM. Also with the organization for more than  nine years (including four under its prior leader Rich Bengloff), Sheryl Cohen is the program director behind A2IM’s legendary Indie Week who creates dynamic and diverse programs for A2IM membership. Cohen moved up to Head of Strategic Planning.

One of the organization’s key projects, A2IM:Artist, whose mission is to help self-releasing artists optimize their careers, was inaugurated in 2020. In addition to curating artist focused events with other music organizations (Motown Music Accelerator, Recording Academy® Memphis Chapter, and the NYC Mayor’s Office), A2IM has grown its presence on YouTube and launched a TikTok channel aimed at sharing critical business information in an easily digestible form for DIY artists.

The coronavirus pandemic brought its share of challenges to the independent music industry, and A2IM jumped in to assist its community in facing them. In 2020, Indie Week and the Libera Awards pivoted overnight into virtual events that allowed the independent music community to gather, support each other, and even celebrate during this difficult time when they needed it most. Burgess, who oversees A2IM’s advocacy strategy, works in tandem with A2IM’s Washington, D.C.-based lobbyists, Josh Hurvitz and Eden Shiferaw of NVG. Together, their efforts have raised A2IM’s profile and impact on Capitol Hill. Burgess also joined representatives from the independent music industry across 19 states to lobby Congress to include relief for the music industry in the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“Richard has proven to be a dynamic leader, expanding the reach of A2IM in the past several years,” said Zena White, Chair of the A2IM Board and Managing Director of Partisan Records. “The team he leads is stronger than ever, having been able to grow its membership and execute meaningful community initiatives, such as BIMA, at a time when our community is most in need. The board of directors looks forward to continuing A2IM’s mission with Richard at the helm as our industry faces new challenges, both known and unknown.”

About A2IM:

A2IM is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in New York City that exists to support and strengthen the independent recorded music sector. Membership currently includes a broad coalition of nearly 700 Independently-owned American music labels. A2IM represents these independently owned small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) interests in the marketplace, in the media, on Capitol Hill, and as part of the global music community. In doing so, it supports a key segment of America’s creative class that represents America’s diverse musical cultural heritage. Billboard Magazine identified the Independent music label sector as 37.32 percent of the music industry’s U.S. recorded music sales market in 2016 based on copyright ownership, making Independent labels collectively the largest music industry sector.


The organization’s current board of directors comprises: Marie Clausen – Ninja Tune, Mariah Czap – Yep Roc, Steven Hill – Warp Records, Heather Johnson – Ninety9lives, Lisa Levy – Robbins Entertainment, Madeline Nelson – Heads Music, Martin Mills – Beggars Group, Louis Posen – Hopeless Records, Darius Van Arman – Secretly Group, Zena White – Partisan Records, Victor Zaraya – Concord.


A2IM is the collective voice of independent music. Our mission is to promote growth, awareness, and opportunities for independent music through advocacy, education and community.