International independent music pioneers Michel Lambot and Kenny Gates have been presented with IMPALA’s Outstanding Contribution award to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the PIAS group.
The indie was established from a basement in Brussels, when it was known as Play It Again Sam.
Over the last four decades, PIAS has grown from a vinyl record importer on behalf of UK independent record labels into a key European and global recording, marketing and distribution outlet. It currently has 19 offices and 280 employees globally. Last year it sold 49% of the company to UMG.
They founded IMPALA in 2000 to develop a single voice for the independent music sector in Europe. They were also instrumental in creating Merlin as well as WIN, with a view to supporting and expanding the independent music ecosystem internationally.
This Outstanding Contribution award for PIAS follows the Indie Champion award at the AIM Music Awards 2022 in London. In 2023, PIAS is marking the anniversary with a full year of celebrations, dedicated re-releases and live events. Michel Lambot and Kenny Gates were presented with their awards by IMPALA’s Helen Smith at their Bxk Central – Chez PIAS record shop and office located on Rue Saint Laurent in Brussels.
Helen Smith, executive chair of IMPALA, said: “Michel and Kenny’s story is an inspiration to all emerging independents starting out in the sector. The contribution of PIAS to the European music sector is totally unique. The amazing 40th anniversary re-releases speak for the artists and great music, and IMPALA, Merlin and WIN speak for their approach on collaboration making everyone stronger. This award honours their deep passion and dedication.”
Michel Lambot, co-founder of PIAS, said: “Back some 25 years ago, we had the idea to combine forces of a handful of independent companies to increase our market leverage and playing field. That sounded crazy and naive: trying to unify independent companies owned and run by people fiercely independent was antinomic… And now getting an award by IMPALA, which has become a kind of institution, makes me feel so proud and so happy. The recognition by our peers of what we did all these years and are still doing, Kenny and myself, as PIAS on one hand, and for the independent world on the other hand, is very moving.”
Kenny Gates, CEO of PIAS, added: “Our goal at PIAS has always been to expand our dreams by creating a company of holistic values that reflects a pan-European diversity. It’s been an incredible journey of constant adaptation, and we couldn’t receive this award without thanking all our staff and friends.”
Previous recipients include Tony Duckworth, Didier Gosset, Fono, Kees Van Weijen, Keith Harris, Tom Deakin, Love Record Stores, Music Declares Emergency, and more.