The Association of Independent Music (AIM) has named Ruth Barlow, director of live licensing at Beggars Group, as its new chair during its 2023 annual general meeting today.
With ‘A year of change’ as its theme, the meeting reflected both on the changes within AIM’s own leadership and team structure over the past year, and on the shifts going on within the independent sector and wider music industry.
In her opening address, CEO Silvia Montello spoke about AIM’s involvement in discussions around streaming reform, UK Music’s Music Manifesto for the upcoming general election, the evolution of AI technology in the music industry, the fight against streaming fraud, and lobbying for better funding and investment for independents.
Newly named chair Ruth Barlow takes up her position with 25 years of experience in the UK music industry. In 2002, she joined Beggars Group, the label group home to 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade Records, XL Recordings and Young.
In 2007 she was appointed to Beggars’ newly created head of live position and then to director of live licensing, a new area of business overseeing policy and management of Beggars Group’s rights deals with third parties around the world surrounding live recordings. She was appointed a director of Beggars Group UK in 2014 and has been an AIM board member since 2021.
Barlow takes over from former AIM chair Nadia Khan, founder of Women In CTRL and music consultancy CTRL Music. She helped oversee the transition to new CEO Silvia Montello, as well as the organisation’s support for its members as the UK emerged from the pandemic. Khan's tenure included the development and successful launch of the Amplify apprenticeship scheme to bolster gender diversity on independent label rosters.
Nadia Khan said: “I am delighted to welcome Ruth Barlow as the new chair of AIM. Ruth brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and an undeniable passion for our members that will undoubtedly propel AIM to new heights. As I reflect on my own journey as AIM’s chair, I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the entire AIM community for their unwavering support and collaborative spirit. Together, we navigated through a period of significant change amidst the challenges of the post-pandemic landscape. One of the highlights of my tenure was the launch of AIM's Amplify apprenticeship scheme in partnership with Women In CTRL and Amazon Music. I am immensely proud of our apprentices and the impact this initiative will have on shaping the future of our industry.”
Ruth Barlow said: “I want to thank Nadia Khan, who has been a remarkable chair and I am immensely proud to be passed the baton, particularly from her. As AIM’s new chair I want to make all members feel valued and heard and help strive for consensus, increasing engagement among all members of our community. Above all, I want to support AIM’s efforts to attract new members, particularly from regional and under-represented groups, and to help arm a new generation of independents with a shared sense of community and knowledge.”
2023 has been a year of significant change for AIM, for the independent sector and for the music industry
Also newly appointed to the AIM board are:
Tim Dellow, director and co-founder of Transgressive: Dellow has been an independent music executive for nearly 20 years and was previously elected Chair of AIM in 2017.
Jackie Joseph, general counsel for Chrysalis Records / Blue Raincoat Music: Joseph’s business affairs career has encompassed roles with major and independent music companies and various legal disciplines. She joined Blue Raincoat in 2020.
Peter Quicke, chair of Ninja Tune: Quicke joined Coldcut to help run Ninja Tune, one of AIM’s earliest members, in 1992. He is also the co-founder of Music Declares Emergency and a founding member of the Music Climate Pact. He sat as chair of AIM from 2019 to 2021.
Chloé van Bergen, VP operations for Secretly Group: Van Bergen joined Secretly in 2020, and has held numerous previous positions with independents including Partisan, Believe and Domino.
The four were voted for by the AIM membership from a large and diverse group of candidates They replace outgoing board members Horst Weidenmüller (!K7 Music), Jamie Oborne (Dirty Hit), Jeff Bell (Partisan Records) and Nadia Khan (CTRL Music).
Of this year’s board candidates, almost 50% were from outside London and 21% were from minority ethnic backgrounds, while 18% identified as LGBTQIA+ and 7% disclosed a disability.
The AGM also saw COO Gee Davy speak on AIM’s continuing policy and lobbying work, including around AI, as well as AIM’s key involvement in the IPO’s transparency and metadata working groups following the CMS Committee Streaming Inquiry, and international lobbying through its work on streaming reform and more as part of IMPALA and WIN.
Ben Wynter, director of business development and partnerships, spoke about the ongoing roll-out of AIM’s Angel Investment Syndicate and its Investment Readiness Programme, as well as its newly launched partnership with EY to accelerate independent sector growth.
Head of membership Nina Radojewski presented an overview of AIM’s membership activities alongside key findings from this year’s member survey.
Silvia Montello said: “2023 has been a year of significant change for AIM, for the independent sector and for the music industry as a whole. While recognising that change can be challenging, disruptive, uncomfortable, it is also vital. Change provides opportunity for our organisation and the sector to grow and evolve, to innovate, to rewrite the playbook in order to build the sort of music industry that we want to see in the future; one which supports emerging talent from the grass-roots up, which educates and invests in the fledgling independent labels and emerging artists of now into becoming the powerhouses of the future, one which continues to broaden its impact nationally and internationally ensuring a more level playing field of opportunities and investment for independent music communities and entrepreneurs from every corner of the UK.”
PHOTO: (L-R) Tim Dellow - Transgressive, Nadia Khan - CTRL Music - outgoing board member and outgoing chair, Ruth Barlow - Beggars Group / AIM chair, Nicole McKenzie - MIC Records, Silvia Montello - AIM, Maya Kalev - Stones Throw, Snooky Grubb - Mute, Stella Reid - Rough Bones, Tony Morley - The Leaf Label, Sarah Cole - AEI