Introduced by chart-topping Warner Music star Dua Lipa, Lousada took to the stage - following video tributes from Ed Sheeran, Chris Martin and Stormzy - to deliver an impassioned acceptance speech that turned into something of a state of the nation address for the music business, touching on diversity, competition, technology and the future.
Read the speech in full below.
Max Lousada: "Thank you, Dua... You’re amazing.
"Thank you also to Mark and everyone at Music Week.
"Fifteen years ago, when I started at Atlantic, I was lucky enough to spend time with Ahmet Ertegun – a great friend and drinking buddy of Tony Stratton-Smith who inspired this award. And, when I was preparing this speech, I came across a line of Ahmet’s I think Tony would’ve liked. He said, “It’s a great life, this life of music. I never imagined I could earn a living doing something I enjoyed so much.”
"And that’s exactly how I feel. All I ever wanted was to be in music. As a kid, sharing the latest LP or mixtape, I saw the power it had to bring people together and I was sold.
"Since then, this life of music has given me some incredible experiences. Intense highs and crushing lows. It’s the promise and jeopardy in every signing. That thrill when your artist gets the wins they deserve. The heartbreak when they don’t.
"So it’s no place for passengers. You have to love it, to love the artists, the songs. To have faith. And this generation of music people has seen their faith tested more than most. We had to keep the lights on during that long, dark decade of decline, and that took conviction… An unshakeable belief that what we do really matters.
"It’s not just in the tough times you need it, but in the good times too.
"Because now, there’s a new confidence radiating through our business. The digital age means music is everywhere, for everyone. The global opportunities for artists are unprecedented.
This business isn’t about me, or you. We’re just taking care of it for the next generation
"But that doesn’t mean we can relax. In fact it means the complete opposite. Because when the prize gets bigger, so does the competition. Right now, people are running at this space. People with big plans and deep pockets. People who see music as a vehicle rather than a vocation.
"And, don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited about all the ways technology helps music find new expression and new audiences. But it would be tragic if, along the way, we lost the magic, the alchemy, the minor miracles and the cool accidents that happen when dedicated, determined people pursue their passions.
"So I want to use this platform to celebrate all the people for whom music is not a game, it’s the prize. Everyone who’s made music their life, and, in doing so, changed mine and millions of others.
"First, the artists. Not just the ones I’ve been lucky enough to work with, but all the creators who put their thoughts and feelings on show for the world. The musicians, songwriters, engineers and producers who enthral and entertain us. It’s a pleasure to serve you.
"Next, a shout out to their tireless champions. The managers, the radio stations, the media, the retailers and promoters, as well as our respected colleagues at Sony and Universal. And, of course, the mighty independent community, home to some of our most exciting talent.
"Everyone in that equation plays a huge part in preserving the unique richness of our cultural landscape and amplifying the artistic force that is the great British music scene.
"And I couldn’t stand here tonight without acknowledging our collective responsibility for making sure that the music industry becomes more diverse and more inclusive.
"That’s the only way we’ll raise up a new crop of music-lovers, of risk-takers and troublemakers. People who’ll take music in revolutionary directions we can’t even imagine.
"Because this business isn’t about me, or you. We’re just taking care of it for the next generation. Just like Ahmet and Strat did for us.
"So I want to end by saying a few personal thank yous to the individuals who have backed, inspired and challenged me - including Brian and Jarret who had faith in a kid from south London. I thank Korda Marshall who found me in Brick Lane. Nick Philips for making me the youngest MD at Atlantic. To Christian and Lyor and to the Warner family around the world who are such great supporters of our UK artists. I’d especially like to thank Len and Steve for the immense trust they've placed in me in giving me the whole toy kit.
"Thank you to everyone on our team here in London – the teams at Atlantic, Warner Bros, Parlophone, Rhino, East West and ADA, and everyone who works here in the UK. You’re killing it.
"A special shout-out to my assistant Nikki Elms, who’s been with me for 10 years and who makes me look way more professional than I actually am.
"Finally, to the most important artist in my life, my wife, Ali. You’ve made this possible and also given me our two biggest hits, Chloe and Millie. I love you all.
"Thanks, everyone, and good night."
Catch up on all of tonight's winners here.