Submissions are now open for the AIM Independent Music Awards, which return for 2021 with an immersive virtual event on the 9th September. In the hardest year many of us have ever faced, the independent community once again proved its resilience, unabatedly releasing records at the height of lockdown and leading the fray in innovative live stream performances. The Awards will celebrate that resolve, plus the very best of independent music, with a host of live streamed performances from internationally renowned artists.

New for 2021 are two exciting additional categories: Diversity Champion and Best Live [Streamed] Act. The Diversity Champion award will recognise individuals working in music who have dedicated themselves to achieve something extraordinary in the cause of diversity, equity and inclusion, and demonstrated a desire and drive to level the playing field in their work or business. There will also be a twist on the public-voted Best Live Act award, returning as Best Live [Streamed] Act to pay homage to the outstanding creative performances that have impressed on our screens in a year without in-person live shows.

Submissions are open to all, and free for AIM’s rightsholder and independent distributor members. The One To Watch, Best Independent Remix, Best Small Label and Diversity Champion are free for anyone to enter.

A total of 18 awards will be up for grabs, including coveted titles such as Best Independent Track (in association with Facebook), Best Independent Album (in association with Spotify), Best Independent Label, Indie Champion and One to Watch (in association with BBC Music Introducing).

The deadline for submissions is midday on Tuesday 4th May. Submissions can be made via

Now in its 11th year, the event follows the success of the 2020 Awards, which saw incredible performances from award-winners Arlo Parks, Little Simz, and AJ Tracey, as well as Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn, who gave a touching tribute to his late friend, the legendary Tony Allen. Erasure's Vince Clarke took home the Special Recognition Award with a world-first live performance of 'Nerves of Steel', while Flying Lotus took Best Independent Track and Sarathy Korwar took Best Independent Album. Previous years have seen Johnny Marr, Debbie Harry, IDLES, Peggy Gou, SOPHIE, and Christine and the Queens all honoured by the Awards.

Black Skull Creative - who have worked with a variety of high profile artists on everything from virtual shows to television performances - will be taking the production reins to design an immersive virtual stage for the event.

Commenting on the 2021 edition of the Awards, AIM CEO Paul Pacifico said “In a year like no other, the brilliance of independent music has cut through and brought hope to displace despair.
Our community has held out its hands to offer emotional, cultural and financial support to those in need, while demonstrating incredible resilience and agility in response to the double whammy of Covid and Brexit.

“We still face enormous challenges and there is much work to do, but our Awards are a moment in the year to come together and celebrate what we do best - make and release outstanding music!”

AIM thanks its Annual Platinum Partners, who all return as category sponsors at this year’s AIM Awards: Amazon Music (Innovator Award), Facebook (Best Independent Track), Merlin (Outstanding Contribution to Music), PPL (Most Played New Independent Artist), Spotify (Best Independent Album) and YouTube Music (UK Independent Breakthrough). The Annual Platinum Partner’s support helps to make AIM’s annual programming, including the AIM Independent Music Awards, possible.

BBC Music Introducing will also be reprising their sponsorship of the coveted One To Watch category, which recognises an emerging independent artist hotly tipped for success in the next year.

2021 Award Categories
Best [Difficult] Second Album
Best Creative Packaging
Best Independent Album (in association with Spotify)
Best Independent Label
Best Independent Remix
Best Independent Track (in association with Facebook)
Best Independent Video
Best Live [Streamed] Act - *new for 2021*
Best Small Label
Diversity Champion - *new for 2021*
Indie Champion
Innovator Award (in association with Amazon Music)
International Breakthrough
One to Watch (in association with BBC Music Introducing)
Outstanding Contribution to Music (in association with Merlin)
Pioneer Award
PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist
UK Independent Breakthrough (in association with YouTube Music)