2016: The Year in Charts

Alabama Shakes, Run The Jewels and Kamasi Washington Win Big at 2016 Libera Awards

Alabama Shakes performs at Sasquatch! Music Festival on May 29, 2016.

"I prefer the cottage" said the Libera Awards' host and indie-punk stalwart Ted Leo during his introduction to the annual event, organized by the independent label umbrella A2IM and held at the Manhattan Center, which celebrates and recognizes the year's best in independent music and business. Leo was referencing the nature of industry he prefers, disdainfully recalling his salty brushes with the major label system. The assembled leaders of independent music, many of whom might have had similar experiences, were happy to hear it.

Taking an approach similar to its constituents' taste, the Liberas -- now in their fifth year -- keep it fast and fun. Winners are as likely to take the stage in a T-shirt -- like Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman, who accepted Label of the Year in a vintage "Loser" T-shirt -- as they are a suit. (Some winners weren't even in the audience proper -- one winner had to make his way to the stage from the upper deck. "I hope your dinner is good," he said, dripping with sarcasm and smiling towards table-sat guests.) 

Previous Lifetime Achievement winner Pat Chin, founder of the legendary reggae label VP Records, introduced out Curb Records' Mike Curb, accepting the evening's Lifetime Achievement Award. Curb founded his label with $3,000 received from the licensing of his band's song "You Meet the Nicest People in a Honda" in the early '60s. (One guess as to who licensed it.) "I learned along time ago in business you need to find people better than yourself."

Naughty By Nature were honored with the Independent Icon award, and made repeated references to Tom Silverman, in attendance, saying the executive "has been one of the best record label owners ever." 

The 2016 "Libby" awards featured its first ever multi-performance lineup. Nosaj Thing, the eminently promising (but underserved by the din of the room) Torres, Mac DeMarco, who played a tongue-in-cheek solo number ("big finish comin' up here," he said, grinning) and Naughty By Nature, who closed out the evening -- although the assembled crowd hung around chatting for another hour.

Alabama Shakes was the big winners, taking out prizes for album of the year, best live act, and best sync usage. Th band capped a career-year when their sophomore set Sound & Color (ATO Records) beat out recordings from Beach House Courtney Barnett, Jamie xx, Sufjan Stevens, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Kamasi Washington to win the honor. 

Sound & Color last year earned Alabama Shakes their first No. 1 on the Billboard 200, eclipsing the No. 6 peak of its predecessor, 2012’s Boys & Girls.

Other multiple winners at the 2016 "Libby" awards included Run The Jewels (Mass Appeal Records), who took out marketing genius and video of the year for “Close Your Eyes”; and Washington, whose three-disc American Music Prize-winner The Epic (Brainfeedertook home Libbys for groundbreaking and heritage album of the year.

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett added another trophy to her collection with breakthrough artist honors for Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop Music)

2016 Libera Award Winners:  
Best Live Act -- Alabama Shakes (ATO Records) – Jon Salter (General Manager)
Marketing Genius -- Run The Jewels "#12DaysofRTJ" (Mass Appeal Records) – Amit Nerurkar & Amaechi 
Best Sync Usage -- Alabama Shakes "Sound & Color"
Breakthrough Artist -- Courtney Barnett "Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit" (Mom + Pop Music) - Michael Goldstone (President of M+P)
Creative Packaging -- Father John Misty "I Love You Honeybear" (Creative Director: Sasha Barr) (Sub Pop Records) - Tony Kiewel, Head of A&R, Sub Pop
Groundbreaking Album of the Year -- Kamasi Washington – "The Epic" (Brainfeeder) - Bela Zecker (Project Manager at Ninja Tune Records)
Heritage Album of the Year -- Kamasi Washington – "The Epic" 
Independent Champion -  Merlin: Charles Caldas, Jim Mahoney & Tom Deakin
Into the Pit--  Savages "Adore Life" (Matador Records) - Patrick Amory & Robby Morris
Young Label Spotlight Award (Presented by IMPALA) -- Innovative Leisure, Nate Nelson (Co-Owner)
Shifting Beats -- Jamie xx "In Colour" (Young Turks) - STEPHEN CAMPBELL
Independent Icon --  Naughty By Nature
A2IM Lifetime Achievement Award -- Mike Curb (Curb Records)
Video of the Year-- Run The Jewels “Close Your Eyes” 
Video of the Year - Fan Vote -- Grimes "Kill V. Maim" (4AD) - Nabil Ayers
A&R Team of the Year -- ATO Records - Jon Salter (General Manager) & Friends
Label of the Year (<5 employees) -- Daptone Records - Neal Sugarman (Co-Owner Daptone)
Label of the Year (6+ employees) -- Sub Pop Records - Jonathan Poneman (President Sub Pop)
Album of the Year -- Alabama Shakes "Sound & Color"