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News September 28, 2020

AIR’s Maria Amato talks ‘virtual’ 2020 AIR Awards, Indie-Con: ‘Cancelling never came to my mind’

AIR’s Maria Amato talks ‘virtual’ 2020 AIR Awards, Indie-Con: ‘Cancelling never came to my mind’

By their very nature, the independents are agile, nimble and so often able to spot developments before the big guys. So, scrapping next month’s AIR Awards and 2020 Indie-Con was never going to happen.

“Cancelling never came to my mind,” Maria Amato, CEO of the Australian Independent Record Labels Association, tells TIO. “We wanted to find another way around the mountain.”

Like the NIMAs, the APRAs and other key awards ceremonies held during the pandemic, AIR’s flagship annual events this year will be a “virtual” one.

As previously reported, the 2020 ceremony will be live streamed on YouTube from Adelaide’s Lion Arts, this Thursday, 1st October, with multiple nominations for the likes of Tones And I, Julia Jacklin, Sampa The Great, Stella Donnelly, The Teskey Brothers and Ainslie Wills.

Also, ABC MusicSpinning Top RecordsElefant TraksI Oh You and Sweat It Out are shortlisted for the prestigious Independent Label of the Year trophy. 

Tones and I's Spotify’s Front Left Live playlist event in Melbourne, Australia.

Tones And I

Confirmed performers at the AIR Awards this year include Stella Donnelly, Angie McMahon, The Teskey Brothers and The Soul Movers, with the action kicking off 8pm local time.

The indies won’t be partying in Adelaide year, but the message is still the same. “Let’s celebrate the success of the indie artists and labels who don’t have as much resources as someone signed to a major label and are doing it tough anyway and doing great things,” enthuses Amato.

“It’s the work that needs to be celebrated. However we can get it up and do it, we’ll do a big song and dance, encourage them, applaud them and look forward to their next lot of work.”

Stella Donnelly playing BIGSOUND 2017

Stella Donnelly

The annual awards ceremony will be bookended once again by Indie-Con Australia, taking place 1st and 2nd October and streaming to the world.

On the upside, notes Amato, every challenge has some opportunity hidden within. “People can log in digitally. The opportunity for us is that we can reach a wider audience, as opposed to getting on an airplane and coming on down.”

This year’s Indie-Con program is stacked with topics for doing business in these difficult times.

One session will drill into livestreaming, and to earn money from virtual touring and how the industry is switching up A&R in the age of live streaming.

Artists and industry professionals will explore case studies on releasing music in lockdown, and another virtual panel will dive in on the complexities of revenue streams.

Ollie Wards with TikTok logo

Ollie Wards

The long list of speakers this year includes Mardi Caught (The Annex), Terry McBride (Nettwerk Music Group), John Watson (ELEVEN: A Music Company), Johann Ponniah (IOHYOU), Jacqui Louez Schoorl (JAXSTA), Charlotte Abroms (Hear Hear Group), Andrew Stone (Chugg Music), Poppy Reid (The Brag Media), and artists Jaguar Jonze, Ali Barter and Alex the Astronaut.

Expect a rush online for a day one Q&A with Tik Tok’s newly-appointed Director of Music for ANZ Ollie Wards, and former Merlin CEO Charles Caldas’ special day-two interview with ex-Spotify Chief Economist Will Page.

“We’ll look at people who’ve had great explosions from social media engagement and are now making it into the charts, and what can traditional A&R learn from that,” explains Amato.

Sessions will also touch on themes to help labels consider greater diversity inclusion policies, how they run their businesses, COVID conduct and more.

“I’m always in awe of our indie member artists and labels and distributors,” notes Amato, “because it’s their dream and passion, they’re completely invested in making their life successful because they’re doing something they love and they’re trying to monetise it, they’re all-in. It’s not like they’re working for someone else. They have to survive.”

Check out the Indie-Con 2020 program and register here.

Subscribe to AIR’s YouTube channel to stream the 2020 AIR awards.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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