Backbeat: A2IM's Libera Awards Bring Out Indie Royalty With Seymour Stein, Martin Mills, Tom Silverman, More

(L-R) Tommy Boy Records' Tommy Silverman, Warner Music Group's Seymour Stein, and Martin Mills of Beggars Group mingle at the Libera Music Awards at the Highline Ballroom.

(Photo Credit: Kyle Reinford) 

From the podium at the second annual Libera Awards Thursday night, Portia Sabin of Kill Rock Stars toasted a room full of DIY music entrepreneurs who unwound with free booze and finger foods after three days of power meetings, panels and presentations during A2IM’s Indie Week.

Host Portia Sabin of Kill Rock Stars. (Photo Credit: Kyle Reinford) 

“We’re the risk takers of the music industry, we put our hearts and souls on the line every day,” she said. “And we don’t do it for the accolades— but it’s nice when they come.”

From Barsuk to Bandzoogle, representatives from 400 independent labels, distributors, publishers, digital platforms and more gathered at the Highline Ballroom on Manhattan’s West Side to celebrate the independent music industry and catch up with old friends, many of whom flew in from around the country and abroad. John Ross Bowie, comedian and actor on CBS’s hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” hosted the proceedings and took the opportunity to (playfully) rib “the nation’s music snobs.”

Glassnote Records' Daniel Glass won the Lightbulb Award, which celebrates the most innovative and creative marketing campaign by an Independent label or artist. (Photo Credit: Kyle Reinford)

“I think next year we can liven this up by taking a few cues from The Tony Awards,” Bowie said at one point. “After all, we both give awards out to people who no one else has ever heard of.”

In his speech after accepting A2IM’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy Records and the New Music Seminar summed up the indie community’s ethos with a little more magnanimity.

Members of the music industry schmooze, booze, and snack at the Libera Music Awards at the Highline Ballroom. (Photo Credit: Kyle Reinford)

“The majors are like homerun hitters— they strike out the most,” Silverman said. “But we indies bunt and steal to get on base. We play moneyball.”

Darius Van Arman, co-founder of the Secretly Canadian group of labels and head of Jagjaguwar called this year’s indie week as a whole “excellent” and said he was particularly inspired by presentations from Charles Caldas of Merlin and Helen Smith of Impala. Caldas presented the results of Merlin's international member survey, which showed that two thirds of respondents increased streaming and subscription revenue by 50 percent in 2012. “The majors are fewer and fewer all the time, but every time I look around we’re multiplying,” he said. Jagjaguwar has new albums from Justin Vernon and Collections of Colonies of Bees’ Volcano Choir and golden-voiced songstress Angel Olsen slated for the fall.

(L-R) Spotify's Jessie Rubin, SC Distribution's Anna Bond, and Darius Van Arman of Jagjaguwar/Dead Oceans/Secretly Canadian. (Photo Credit: Kyle Reinford)

Allison Jones, Vice President of A&R for Big Machine Records, said she felt “energized” by the week, despite having a very busy couple of days. Early on Thursday, Big Machine announced that it had signed Danielle Bradbury, winner of the just-finished season of NBC’s “The Voice.” “I love being around people who work their asses off,” she said.

Nabil Ayers, who runs 4AD Records in America, said he learned everything he ever wanted to know about the Australian music business during his favorite session of A2IM’s State of the Union on Thursday. 4AD is “taking a breather” after having just released albums from Daughter, Zomby and Camera Obscura in June. Later this year the label will put out a solo album from Brian Degraw of Gang Gang Dance and new records are forthcoming from St. Vincent and Grimes in 2014.

The Glassnote Records Team, who won Independent Label of the Year Award. (L-R) Zach Hundley, Alex Dunne, McKee Floyd, Daniel Glass, Rachel Stoewer, Stephanie Shim, Nick Petropolous. (Photo credit: Kyle Reinford)

Kill Rock Stars' Sabin, who chairs the planning committee for the Libera Awards, kept busy after her opening toast handing award winners their custom iron and wood trophies designed by Zak Gere. “It’s exciting to be with all these people from different parts of the industry that you only get to see once a year,” she said. Later this year, Kill Rock Stars will release its first comedy album from New York comedian Kurt Braunohler.

Steven Machat of LA’s Hippos in Tanks said his favorite part of the week was the continuous sharing of ideas, a subject he said he had written a book about. Hippos in Tanks is currently promoting the new solo album from producer and soul singer Dean Blunt and will release a new album from the electronic music producer James Ferraro later this year.

(L-R) Daptone Records' GM Cathy Bauer, Keith Artin of Merge, and OK! Good Records' Suzy Foreman and Molly Boekenheide. (Photo Credit: Kyle Reinford) 

Josh Berman, label manager for Warp Records in America had just flown into New York the night before in order to fill his duties running the visuals for the awardsceremony. Having just released the first Boards of Canada album in seven years, he said Warp had recently signed the electronic producer Oneohtrix Point Never and will release a new album by Jackson and His Computer Band in September.