Category Criteria & FAQs

UK Independent Breakthrough

In Association With YouTube Music

Recognising independent artists who have made waves in the UK over the last year. The artist must be signed to a UK/ROI based independent label or be a self-releaser based in the UK/ROI. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by our panel of expert judges.

Recognising UK independent artists who have made an impact internationally over the last year. The artist must be signed to a UK/ROI based independent label or be a self-releaser based in the UK/ROI. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by our panel of expert judges.

Best Independent Track

In Association With Facebook

Recognising the best independent track of the past year. The track must be by an artist signed to a UK/ROI based independent label or be self-released based in the UK/ROI. The track must have been released between 4th May 2020 and 4th May 2021. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by our panel of expert judges.

Best Independent Remix

In Association With Soundcloud

Recognising the best independent remix of the past year. This award goes to the record label or individual who released the remix. The track must have been released by a UK/ROI based independent label or by a self-releaser based in the UK/ROI. The track must have been released between 4th May 2020 and 4th May 2021. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by our panel of expert judges.

Best Independent Album

In Association With Spotify

Recognising the best independent album of the past year. The album must be by an artist signed to a UK/ROI based independent label or by a self-releaser based in the UK/ROI. The album must also have been released between 4th May 2020 and 4th May 2021. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by our panel of expert judges.

Recognising the best independent second album of the past year. The album must be by an artist signed to an UK/ROI based independent label or by a self-releaser based in the UK/ROI. The album must also have been released between 4th May 2020 and 4th May 2021. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by our panel of expert judges.

Recognising the best independent music video of the past year. The video must be for a track released by an UK/ROI based independent label or by a self-releaser based in the UK/ROI. The video must have been released between 4th May 2020 and 4th May 2021. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by our specialist video jury.

Celebrating inventive and uplifting packaging design that complements and amplifies the spirit of the recordings contained within, contributing an enhanced visual and tactile experience. This must be a physical product incorporating music and released by a UK/ROI based independent record label or by self-released based in the UK/ROI. This may include [but is not limited to] new releases, special edition box sets, compilations, rarities, re-issues, repackaged releases and anniversary collectibles. The product must have been released between 4th May 2020 and 4th May 2021. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by our panel of expert judges.

Recognising the best live streamed independent performances of the past year. The artist must either be signed to a UK/ROI based independent record label or be a self-releaser based in the UK/ROI. All entries for this category will be entered in an online poll where a public vote will decide the nominees and winners.

One To Watch

In Association With BBC Music Introducing

Recognising an emerging independent artist hotly tipped for success in the next year. The artist must either be signed to a UK/ROI based independent record label or be a self-releaser based in the UK/ROI. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by our judging panel of music experts.

Recognising music businesses who prove that you don’t have to be big to be smart! The UK/ROI based business must have no more than three full time members of label staff worldwide or an annual turnover of less than £250,000. The final nominees and winners of this award will be decided by the AIM Board.

Best Independent Label

Recognising excellence in the independent music business community. This can be a UK/ROI based record label of any size who has shown exceptional success or innovation over the past year. The winner of this award will be decided by the AIM Board.

No submissions

Shining a light on individuals or business who have demonstrated unwavering support for the independent community over the past year. The winner of this award will be decided by the AIM Board.

This brand-new category gives the Independent Music Community the opportunity to shine a light on individuals in music who have used their position and power to achieve something extraordinary in the cause of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our DiversityChampion could be someone who has done recent good work or has been banging the drum for diversity for years and is able to show both their intent in tackling inequality as well as their impact. Our Diversity Champion can also demonstrate how their desire and drive to level the playing field in music or wider society is embedded into their work and business, rather than it being something they are employed to do. Do you know someone who has shown innovation and courage and done incredible things to drive the cause?  
  
Criteria: 
· The recipient of this award will be an individual rather than a business 
· The winner must be connected with music in some way - working in music or within the music industry 
· The winner could be an artist, a business leader or anyone else who has used their experience and / or platform to create tangible change 
· Equally the winner could be someone with little influence who has done great work. 
· We understand that ‘diversity’ can vary depending on context (e.g. field of work or geographical location) 
· We are taking into consideration work around any of the nine protected characteristics (as recognised under the Equality Act) as well as other barriers to success such as socio-economic or regional factors 
· A nomination can be for work around any single characteristic or barrier in isolation, but the recipient should be known to be respectful of those with any of the protected characteristics 
· The winner of this award will be decided by the AIM Board with input from AIM’s equity, diversity and inclusion advisors 
· We recognise that the kind of activities anticipated for this award can take a long time to see results, we will consider early-stage results that look promising in creating lasting changes. 

Pioneer Award

Shining a light on individuals or business who have been pioneers in their field within the independent community over the past year. The winner of this award will be decided by the AIM Board.

No submissions

Innovator Award

In Association With Amazon Music

Shining a light on individuals or business who have been innovators in their field within the independent community over the past year. The winner of this award will be decided by the AIM Board.

No submissions

Outstanding Contribution To Music

In Association With Merlin

Shining a light on individuals or business who have made an outstanding contribution to music specifically within the independent community over the past year. The winner of this award will be decided by the AIM Board.

No submissions

PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist

In Association With PPL

Qualifying acts must be independent (not on a major or major subsidiary - as per the OCC’s definition of independent) and must not have released a studio album prior to 1st January 2020. The data used covers all PPL UK Broadcast usage from 1st May 2020 up to and including 31 April 2021. The PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist takes statistics from the Official Charts Company (OCC) to decide the winner and nominees.

No submissions

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re have any difficulty with the submissions process or have any questions which are not addressed below, please call the AIM office on 020 3771 0400 and we can help. Further enquiries about AIM and the AIM Independent Music Awards may be answered by the information available elsewhere on this website or on the AIM website aim.org.uk.

  • WHEN ARE THE AIM INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS?
  • To be the first to hear about when the AIM Awards are taking place, please sign up to our mailing list via the menu.

  • HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M AN AIM MEMBER AND HOW DO I ACCESS MY DISCOUNT?
  • When creating an account for the AIM Awards website, entering your Member ID during registration will automatically unlock the discount.

    If you’re a member and you know your member ID, please head here to create an account.

    If you think you may be a member but don’t know your Member ID, please log in to AIM’s website here using the email address your account is registered to and you can view your ID number once logged in.

    If you are a member/work at a member company but haven’t created an account on AIM’s website or don’t know your log-in details, please email sophie@aim.org.uk and we can set up your account.

  • HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M AN AIM MEMBER?
  • The following categories take submissions: UK Independent Breakthrough, International Breakthrough, Best Independent Track, Best Independent Remix, Best Independent Album, Best [Difficult] Second Album, Best Independent Video, Best Creative Packaging, Best Live [Streamed] Act, One To Watch, Diversity Champion and Best Small Label.

    The AIM Board decide the winner of Best Small Label, Best Independent Label and Indie Champion. The PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist takes statistics from the Official Charts Company (OCC). Best Live Act is decided by a public poll.

    Only AIM Members can submit to the Indie Champion category.

  • WHEN CAN I MAKE A SUBMISSION?
  • Submissions open on 11th March 2021 and close on 4th May 2021.

  • WHO DECIDES THE SHORTLIST OF NOMINEES AND THE WINNERS?
  • The shortlist of nominees and the winners in all categories which take submissions are decided by an independent music jury.

    The AIM Board decides the winner of Pioneer Award, Innovator Award, Outstanding Contribution To Music, Best Small Label, Best Independent Label, Diversity Champion and Indie Champion. The PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist takes statistics from the Official Charts Company (OCC) to decide the winner and nominees. Best Live Act is decided by a public poll.

  • WHO CAN MAKE A SUBMISSION?
  • Anyone can make a submission for the AIM Independent Music Awards but, as AIM is the trade body representing independent music entrepreneurs based in the UK, independent music businesses and their releases, artists, and champions of independent music based in the UK will be eligible for an AIM Independent Music Award.

  • WHAT DOES INDEPENDENT MEAN?
  • An ‘independent’ music business could be any music business, including a self-releasing artist’s own imprint, which is not a ‘major’ (Warner Music, Sony Music or Universal Music or any of their affiliates or subsidiaries) and is not more than 49% owned by one of those. Such independent music businesses may have deals with majors, including distribution agreements and even joint ventures. Additionally, an ‘independent’ music business cannot, for the purposes of these awards, control more than 5% of the total UK recorded music market.

  • WHAT IS THE ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC?
  • AIM is the not-for-profit trade body exclusively representing the UK’s independent music sector, which makes up a quarter of the recorded music market. Now in its 20th year, AIM’s 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. AIM promotes and supports this exciting and diverse sector globally and provides a range of services, commercial opportunities and practical help to members, enabling them to innovate, grow and break into new markets.

    Rightsholder, Distributor or Friend of AIM Membership: Find out which membership tier or tiers would benefit you and your business here.

    If you are interested in finding out about AIM membership, contact us here.

    Sign up for news and updates from AIM here.

    See aim.org.uk for more details.

  • WHO HAS PREVIOUSLY WON AN AIM AWARD?
  • The AIM Independent Music Awards are proud to have honoured a wide array of extraordinary independent artists including: Adele, Alt-J, Arlo Parks, AJ Tracey, Björk, Christine and The Queens, Daughter, Dave, Debbie Harry, First Aid Kit, Georgia, IDLES, Johnny Marr, Jorja Smith, Little Simz, London Grammar, SBTRKT, SOPHIE, Stormzy, Tony Allen, The Prodigy and Wolf Alice.

    The AIM Independent Music Awards have also highlighted the amazing work from the independent community’s leading labels and industry figures including: 4AD, Charles Caldas (Merlin), Allen Kovac, Geoff Travis (Rough Trade), Hyperdub, Martin Mills (Beggars Group), Scruff of the Neck, Steve Beckett (Warp), Partisan Records, Transgressive, and many more!

  • COMPLETING THE NOMINATION FORM
  • Please follow the instructions to complete the nomination form for the intended category/categories completely and accurately, paying particular attention to the criteria, otherwise your nomination may not be eligible. All information provided is checked, and if the nomination doesn’t meet the criteria, it will not be considered. It is important that you provide as much information as possible about your nominee where asked to help them make their final decision. You may not be able to reopen and submit any further information once you have submitted the nomination form so you should ensure you have included all relevant information before you submit.

    It is a condition of entry that the individual/organisation submitting an entry has secured all relevant permissions and clearances to use the album cover artwork, any uploaded audio, the uploaded music video and artist/band visuals and photographs (as provided as part of the submission process) from any submitted entry for promotional purposes in connection with the AIM Awards.

    It is also a condition of entry that should an artist/organisation be nominated for an AIM Independent Music Award, it's understood the nominee will take part in key promotional activiites and be available for media interviews relating to the AIM Awards.

    Please do not send in physical examples of the nominee’s work (e.g. videos, photographs, etc.) unless specifically asked to do so on the online form. Where asked, please read and follow the instructions carefully as AIM can’t take any responsibility for the wrong type of asset sent or if it has been sent to the wrong address, in the wrong format, and so on.

  • STRUCTURE OF THE JUDGING PROCESS
  • Submissions close on 4 May 2021 in order to give AIM time to put all the information together for the judges. Our panel of judges will then meet to analyse the information provided and come to a final decision for each judged category.

    Please see our Privacy Notice for more details on how data is collected and processed.