Deputy CEO

“The essence of what PIAS is about is to strengthen what I started 30 years ago, which is a European alternative to the major-label system,” says CEO Kenny Gates, who co-founded the Belgium-based company in 1982 alongside Michel Lambot. Today, PIAS is Europe’s largest independent sales and distribution firm, with offices in every major European market, the United States and Australia. Split into three divisions—PIAS Artist & Label Services, PIAS Cooperative and PIAS Recordings—the company supports and facilitates the release of 100-plus indie releases per year, according to Gates. Much like its major-label competitors, PIAS is also growing. In 2013 it acquired distribution and marketing business Co-Operative Music as part of Universal Music Group’s EMI divestment. Also last year, PIAS and Rough Trade Distribution merged to form one of the biggest music distributors in the region encompassing Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. “2013 was an incredible year,” says Gates, who credits big-selling records from Texas, Editors and Agnes Obel with contributing to last year's record revenue. “Our job is to discover great talent and make it known to as wide a public as possible. That’s what we’ve always done, and we don’t intend to change.” —Richard Smirke