Alabama Shakes (ATO) And Kamasi Washington (Brainfeeder) Were The Top Winners At A2IM’s Biggest Libera Awards Yet‏

This evening, more than 500 independent-music luminaries packed Manhattan Center’s Grand Ballroom to honor the past year’s trailblazing independent artists and labels during A2IM’s fifth annual Libera Awards, sponsored by SoundExchange and hosted by Ted Leo. In its biggest year yet, the Libera Awards honored a diverse pool of musicians, label executives, and other active members of the independent music sector from around the world representing every imaginable genre. From having more diverse artist performances to being held in its largest venue yet, the Libera Awards have grown into a force to be reckoned with among major music award ceremonies. This year’s ceremony also featured performances by Mac DeMarco (Captured Tracks), Naughty By Nature (Tommy Boy), Nosaj Thing (Innovative Leisure) and Torres (Partisan).

ATO’s Alabama Shakes and Brainfeeder’s Kamasi Washington had the biggest nights. Alabama Shakes won three times: “Best Live Act,” “Best Sync Usage,” and “Album of the Year” for last year’s ‘Sound & Color.’ Jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington was the night’s big newcomer as he won twice for his critically acclaimed debut, ‘The Epic,’ with “Groundbreaking Album of the Year” and “Heritage Album of the Year.”

A2IM CEO Richard Burgess said of the evening’s honors: “Tonight’s award winners represent the finest of our extraordinary and diverse community. The competition was fierce in all categories and we are proud to celebrate them tonight.”

VP Records Co-Founder and 2015 A2IM Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Pat Chin presented Mike Curb, founder of Curb Records, with the A2IM Libera Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for his long and distinguished career as a label executive, songwriter, and producer.

Mike Curb on tonight’s honor: “A2IM has been incredibly important for all of the independent labels, because it’s lifted us and allowed us to speak with one voice.”

The 2016 Libera Awards also honored Tommy Boy’s Naughty By Nature with the inaugural “Indie Icon” Award, which honors groundbreaking independent artists who have contributed to the independent community and have paved the way for future independents to succeed on their own terms.

“It’s really the indies that drive this industry, and for this event to exist and to acknowledge the hard work that these people put in, it’s a blessing,” says group member Vin Rock on tonight’s award.

This year, several honorees were repeat winners. Mass Appeal’s Run The Jewels won its second “Marketing Genius” Award in a row for its “#12DaysofRTJ” campaign. The rap duo also won the “Video of the Year” Award for “Close Your Eyes (and Count to F*ck).”

Mass Appeal’s Amit Nerurkar on tonight’s wins: “It’s brilliant that there is an organization that awards labels for their creative marketing. We’re honored to be recognized.”

Sub Pop once again was crowned “Label of the Year (6+ Employees)” in addition to winning the “Creative Packaging” Award for Sasha Barr’s creative direction on Father John Misty’s ‘I Love You, Honeybear.’

Sub Pop’s Jonathan Poneman on the awards tonight: “I’m grateful for being a part of the independent community for most of my life. This is a great group of people and a dynamic community that’s accessible to everybody.”

Merlin, the global digital rights agency for the world’s independent labels, won its second “Independent Champion” Award in a row.

Merlin CEO Charles Caldas on tonight’s honor: “Seeing the growth of A2IM and the success of this year’s Libera Awards is a great illustration of the health and success of U.S. independents represented by the amazing organization of A2IM.”

On the label front, Daptone won “Label of the Year (<5 Employees)” and Innovative Leisure took home the “Young Label Spotlight” Award presented by IMPALA. ATO, along with its wins from Alabama Shakes, also won the “A&R Team of the Year” Award.

Notable artist winners included Mom + Pop’s Courtney Barnett (“Breakthrough Artist”), Matador’s Savages (“Into The Pit”), Young Turks’ Jamie xx (“Shifting Beats”), and 4AD’s Grimes (“Video of the Year – Fan Vote” for “Kill V. Maim”).

A2IM would like to thank this year’s Libera Awards sponsors: SoundExchange, ADA, AtoZ Media, Caroline, Fox Rothschild LLP, FUGA, INgrooves, Kickstarter, MC Events, The Orchard, Pandora,, Silva Screen Music / SO Recordings / SBMC Inc., and YouTube/ Google Play Music.

2016 Libera Award Winners:

Best Live Act

Alabama Shakes (ATO Records)

Marketing Genius

Run The Jewels “#12DaysofRTJ” (Mass Appeal Records)

Best Sync Usage

Alabama Shakes ‘Sound & Color’ (ATO Records)

Breakthrough Artist

Courtney Barnett ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit’ (Mom + Pop Music)

Creative Packaging

Father John Misty ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ (Creative Director: Sasha Barr) (Sub Pop Records)

Groundbreaking Album of the Year

Kamasi Washington ‘The Epic’ (Brainfeeder)

Heritage Album of the Year

Kamasi Washington ‘The Epic’ (Brainfeeder)

Independent Champion


Into the Pit

Savages ‘Adore Life’ (Matador Records)

Young Label Spotlight Award (Presented by IMPALA)

Innovative Leisure

Shifting Beats

Jamie xx ‘In Colour’ (Young Turks)

Independent Icon

Naughty By Nature

A2IM Lifetime Achievement Award

Mike Curb (Curb Records)

Video of the Year

Run The Jewels “Close Your Eyes (and Count to F*ck)” (Mass Appeal Records)

Video of the Year – Fan Vote

Grimes “Kill V. Maim” (4AD)

A&R Team of the Year

ATO Records

Label of the Year (<5 employees)

Daptone Records

Label of the Year (6+ employees)

Sub Pop Records

Album of the Year

Alabama Shakes ‘Sound & Color’ (ATO Records)

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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