AIM CEO Paul Pacifico has spoken of the huge opportunities for “passionate entrepreneurs” in the indie sector.
During his speech at the trade body’s AGM, staged at the Southbank Centre in London, Pacifico highlighted rising membership and the increase of self-releasing artists who have signed up to AIM.
“Our community has always had a shared sense of purpose – we are commercial competitors and all of us are passionate entrepreneurs in music, but we come together through our commitment to ensuring the future health and prosperity of the independent sector and the ecosystem we share,” said Pacifico.
Stressing the “collective strength” of the organisation, he said that AIM was ready to secure new opportunities for its members and see off “global threats”.
“This is not something to take for granted – this market is complex and evolving fast,” he said. “If we take our eye off the ball, even momentarily, we could quickly lose our momentum and with it, our ability to compete on level terms irrespective of size or scale.”
AIM’s support for members ranges from securing access to anti-piracy solutions from Muso, which resulted in five million takedowns in the last five months, to its active role in lobbying alongside UK Music for the EU Copyright Directive. Direct commercial opportunities include the exclusive BBC Framework Agreement to the collaboration with O2 on the Blue Room at the The O2. AIM was also a key partner in National Album Day.
“We have delivered on the Memorandum of Understanding we announced last year with Pirate Studios which has led to a whole series of Pirate Live streamed gigs and a new offer, about to be promoted to give all artists signed to AIM members a £50 credit for studio time each – a benefit which we calculate could be worth in excess of £150,000 if taken up by the community,” added Pacifico.
We will continue to fight, we will continue to be vigilant on your behalf
While Pacifico didn’t mention YouTube by name, the platform’s payments for uploaded content remain a concern despite the successful result in the European Parliament.
“Some big tech companies represent a liberating and democratising force whilst at the same time undermining the very basis on which we are able to build sustainable businesses by exploiting loopholes in outdated legislation,” he said.
“The AIM community played a significant role in that recent victory on Article 13 - lobbying by ourselves and in collaboration with the campaigns that were run by both Impala and UK Music.
“We were able to show that this was not just an arm-wrestle between big tech and major labels, but that small businesses, independent labels and self-releasing artists' livelihoods hung in the balance in the outcome and our voice was heard.”
Pacifico warned that Brexit, due to be enacted in spring, had the potential to upset the legislative process for copyright reform in the UK.
“The fight is not over and there are further rounds to win – the passage of the final bill in Brussels, the timing with Brexit and whether the UK government will commit to enacting the legislation locally here – and if so, to what extent they reinforce or dilute the relevant articles,” he said. “We will continue to fight, we will continue to be vigilant on your behalf and we will continue to call on you in key moments.”
During a Q&A session, Pacifico said that AIM was looking closely at the global challenges for the indie sector, in partnership with the Worldwide Independent Network.
“We operate in a global business and we need a global voice to respond to global challenges,” he said.
Transgressive co-founder Tim Dellow, chair of AIM, said the independent sector’s image of “beer and chips” is “shifting to something a bit more professional and competitive”.
The theme of the AGM was Representation, Diversity and Inclusion.
“AIM is a diverse community in our very essence,” said Pacifico. “Diversity has always been one of our greatest assets and I am proud to say that we have always been leaders in this area.
“With the advent of new business models, a new generation of entrepreneurs, the blurring of lines between the old-world silos and the rise of self-releasing artists, AIM’s community has become even more diverse."
Pacifico highlighted a diverse line-up of winners at the AIM Awards, including Nadine Shah, Sophie, Peggy Gou, Idles, Dave, Goldie and Erasure.
The event is set for a refresh in 2019, which will mark AIM’s 20th anniversary.