AIM announces new Board members, education partnerships and 'Distribution Switch Code'

New Board members elected. Strategic education framework launched including the first ever Masters Degree co-created by a music industry trade body. Leading independent distributors agree new 'Digital Distribution Switch Code'

London, 21st October 2021

Today the Association of Independent Music announced a raft of new initiatives to support the independent music community’s business and personal development, and the election of its new Board members at its Annual General Meeting.

Five new Board members were elected as part of the formal proceedings: 

·         Alice Whittington, General Manager, Soundway Records 

·         Jamie Oborne, Owner/CEO, Dirty Hit 

·         Jason Rackham, Managing Director, [PIAS] 

·         Ruth Barlow, Director of Live Licensing, Beggars Group 

·         Stella Reid, Co-Founder/Co-Director/Creative Lead, Rough Bones

They join Despa Robinson, Founder & CEO of BE83 and Power Up participant, who was appointed using CEO’s discretionary powers. 

Nadia Khan, AIM’s Chair and Founder of CTRL Music said: “I am delighted to welcome AIM’s new Board members, each of them brings a wealth of experience and expertise in their leadership of the independent sector. 

It’s been so encouraging to see how engaged and passionate the AIM community are about representing independents and having their seat at the table.  This year saw AIM’s most diverse and longest candidate list of 23 nominees, and with only 5 seats available it was disappointing to see that some great people didn’t make it this time around.

I’d also like to thank our retiring Board members for their years of work and service. Achal, Emily, Fred, Nigel & Yvette you will be missed.”

The theme of the AGM was ‘Lifelong Learning’, with a focus on the need for businesses to stay ahead of fast-paced innovation and market developments in music.

Following the education theme, the key announcements include a strategic partnership with international accreditation organisation CLOCK, co-creation of a new master’s degree in music business with Middlesex University, access to exclusive short courses with world leading universities via the online platform Emeritus and an ambitious reboot of the AIM Academy, their in-house education programme.

The education announcements build on AIM’s goals to grow its members’ knowledge base, break down barriers and deliver accessible support to the independent music community to help them to create, build and win in the 21st century music market.

As part of this work, AIM reported on the successful completion of the pilot phase of its new free Associate Membership tier, which was announced last year.

Over 2000 users were given access to the platform during beta testing. This included the artist, label and management clients of four AIM Distributor Members – EmuBands, Label Worx, MTMusic and Secretly Distribution – as well as community groups, Power Up programme applicants and AIM Ireland Members. Following successful completion of the initial phase, AIM is now rolling out access to the clients of its Distributor Members so that they can benefit from this free membership. Clients of !K7, 3Tone Records, Absolute Label Services and FUGA will shortly be invited to join.

Benefits include the Associate Knowledge Base, with 400+ pieces of education content, and the ‘Platinum Gateway,’ a direct line of information between AIM’s members and Amazon Music, Facebook, Merlin, PPL, Spotify and YouTube Music. Associate Membership is rolled out to the clients of more distributors, this will continue to grow.

After a successful first year co-curating Sound City+ in Liverpool, AIM also announced that it would be returning as ‘Knowledge Partner’ for the in-person conference in May 2022. 

David Pichilingi, CEO of Sound City and MD of Modern Sky for UK, Europe and USA said: “We are delighted to be working alongside AIM to further grow and develop Sound City+. Sound City+ is the heartbeat of everything we do. It is the place where those entering the music industry take their first steps into the business. It is the platform where lifetime unions are created and deals are done. Next year is our 15th anniversary and this bond between Sound City and AIM is a bold statement towards the next 15 years.” 

Paul Pacifico, CEO of AIM said: “A ‘lifelong learning’ approach and the growth mindset it helps reinforce are at the core of independent community’s ongoing success at the cutting edge of music in the 21st century. The new education partnerships we are announcing today provide a robust framework for learning and skills recognition across different styles and at all levels. They reinforce the great work already done in-house across our conference and AIM Academy programming.  Alongside our AI-driven knowledge base for Associate members, these initiatives give AIM members a unique and world-leading lifelong learning opportunity that breaks down barriers and democratises access.” 

Another key announcement was the creation of a new ‘Digital Distribution Switch Code’ – a statement of agreed best practice that Distributors should follow to help foster positive working relationships and to prevent avoidable difficulties when a label or artist moves from one distributor to another.

The Code and accompanying explainers and resources were developed by AIM’s COO, Gee Davy, alongside AIM’s Distribution Action Group, with inspiration for the project drawn from the Current Account Switch Guarantee in the finance sector. The project highlights the high standards and leadership shown in independent distribution, working in partnership with their clients – not just when signing up and day-to-day but, also, at what could otherwise be a difficult time, when the contractual relationship is ending.

A number of leading independent Distributors have already signed up to the code including: Absolute Label Services, Believe, Cargo, CI (Consolidated Independent), EmuBands, FUGA, Identity Music, !K7 Music, Kudos, Kycker, [PIAS], Proper Music Distribution, and Secretly Distribution. AIM encourages all those operating digital distribution to adopt the Code as a new industry standard.

Sitting alongside the Code and building on the theme of knowledge sharing, AIM has published guidance for labels, artists and others releasing music, including a checklist covering key points to consider when entering into a distribution agreement and onboarding or switching Distributor. The Digital Distribution Switch Code and Guide can be viewed here. Distributors can use the same link to sign up.

Further resources about distribution are available to AIM’s Rightsholder and Associate members via AIM’s website and the Associate Knowledge Base.

Simon Wills, Managing Director of Absolute Label Services and Chair of the AIM Distribution Action Group said: “It’s great to see the ‘Digital Distribution Switch Code’ come to life and hopefully it will encourage many distribution companies to sign up an engage with this belief. Well done all at AIM and let’s hope there’s more to come.”




AIM is the not-for-profit trade body exclusively representing the UK’s independent music sector. Our members range from the largest, most respected record labels and associated music businesses in the world to self-releasing artists and the next generation of entrepreneurs in music.