Independent Music, Nominees, Winners, Ceremony

Libera Awards

The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM)  hosts the annual awards ceremony known as The “Libera Awards“, or “The Libbys”. The awards, which were first presented in 2012, celebrate the indie music scene. The ceremony, which serves as the highlight of A2IM’s Indie Week, an annual music industry convention, has been broadcast online since 2020.

Record of the Year, Best Live Act, Label of the Year, Best Sync Usage, and Video of the Year are usually the top awards, along with others like Video of the Year. A2IM confers the Lifetime Achievement and Independent Icon Awards on business titans and musicians, respectively, in addition to the awards that are decided by voting each year.

This is first Presented in 2012 by A2IM.

Award divisions

The majority of categories have had their names changed over time; the most notable name changes are listed below. revised in 2022.

Artist-specific awards

  • Best Live Act (2013–2014, 2016–)
  • A2IM Humanitarian Award (2021–)
  • Best Breakthrough Artist (2012–) (2012–2014: Up & Comer Award)

Former categories

  • Road Warrior of the Year (2012–2016) (2013–2015: Hardest Working Artist; 2016: Into the Pit Award)

Record-specific awards

  • Record of the Year (2012–)
  • Self-Released Record of the Year (2022–)
  • A2IM Artist Record of the Year Award (2021–) (honors self-released artists)[1]
  • Best Alternative Rock Record (2020–)
  • Best Americana Record (2018–)
  • Best Blues Record (2018–)
  • Best Classical Record (2018–)
  • Best Country Record (2018–)
  • Best Dance Record (2022–)
  • Best Electronic Record (2022–)
  • Best Folk/Bluegrass Record (2020–)
  • Best Heavy Record (2018, 2020–2021: Best Metal Record)
  • Best Hip-Hop/Rap Record (2017–)
  • Best Jazz Record (2018–)
  • Best Latin Record (2018–)
  • Best Outlier Record (2018–)
  • Best Pop Record (2022–)
  • Best Punk Record (2020–) (2020: Best Punk/Emo Album)
  • Best R&B Record (2018–)
  • Best Re-Issue (2018–)
  • Best Rock Record (2018–) (2020: Best Mainstream Rock Album)
  • Best Spiritual Record (2021–)
  • Best World Record (2018–)

Former categories

  • Groundbreaking Album of the Year (2015–2016)
  • Heritage Album of the Year (2015–2016)
  • Shifting Beats Award (2016)
  • Best Blues/Jazz/R&B Album (2017)
  • Best Classical/World Album (2017)
  • Best Country/Americana/Folk Album (2017)
  • Best Dance/Electronic Record (2017–2021)
  • Best Metal/Hard Rock Album (2017)
  • Best Indie Rock Album (2017)

Industry awards

  • Best Sync Usage (2012–)
  • Video of the Year (2012–)
  • Marketing Genius (2012–) (2012–2014: Light Bulb Award)
  • Creative Packaging (2012–)
  • Independent Champion (2012–) (2012–2013: 21st Century Award; 2014: Independent Ally of the Year; 2015: Marketplace Ally)
  • Label of the Year (Small) (2012–)
  • Label of the Year (Medium) (2019–) (2012–2018: combined into Indie Label (6 employees or more))
  • Label of the Year (Big) (2019–) (2012–2018: combined into Indie Label (6 employees or more))

Former categories

  • Music Supervisor (2012–2014)
  • A&R Team of the Year (2016)
  • Video of the Year (Fan Vote) (2017)

Special Libera awards

A2IM Lifetime Achievement Award

This award was initially given during the inaugural Libera Awards ceremony to recognize the efforts of influential figures in the independent music industry.

  • 2012: Beggars Group founder Martin Mills
  • 2013: Tommy Boy Records’ founder Tom Silverman
  • 2014 has seen the founding of Alligator Records by Bruce Iglauer.
  • 2015: The founding family of VP Records, Patricia Chin, and the Chins
  • Mike Curb, the creator of Curb Records, in 2016
  • 2017: Ani DiFranco, artist, and founder of Righteous Babe Records
  • 2018: Brett Gurewitz, founder of Epitaph Records and co-founder of Anti-
  • 2019: Jonathan Poneman, co-founder of Sub Pop
  • 2020: Seymour Stein, co-founder of Sire Records
  • 2021: TBD

Independent Icon Award

In order to recognize “groundbreaking Free musicians who have contributed to the Free community and have set the way for future Independents to thrive on their possess terms,” this award was first given out at the 2016 Libera Awards. It was given out as the Appleseed Award in 2015.

Alison Wenham in 2015 (Worldwide Independent Network)

  • Naughty By Nature (2016)
  • 2017: Nick Lowe
  • 2018: Funky 4 + 1
  • 2019: NPR (associated with Independent Champion Award) 
  • 2020: Suzanne Ciani, John Prine, and Alejandro Escovedo
  • 2021: Mavis Staples

Independent Impact Award

The free artist with the most noteworthy combined sales and streams, as decided by Nielsen Music across all of the artist’s commercial releases in the U.S. over the course of a year, gets this award, which was formally known as the A2IM Autonomous Impact Award (as of 2021).

  • Florida Georgia Line’s “Dig Your Roots” from 2017 (Big Machine Label Group)
  • Taylor Swift’s reputation as of 2018 (Big Machine Label Group)
  • 2019: Was not honored
  • 2020: Was not honored.
  • 2021: TBD

2022 Libera Awards

The American Association of Free Music hosted the 2022 Libera Awards on June 16, 2022, to recognize the most excellent in autonomous music. YouTube live broadcasts the ceremony.

On March 23, 2022, the nominees were revealed, with the independent pop group Japanese Breakfast leading the pack with seven. Self-Released Record of the Year and Best Pop Record were included as unused award categories. The Leading Dance Record and Best Electronic Record categories were part into partitioned categories, raising the overall number of categories to 36. Best Heavy Record was changed from Best Metal Record.

On June 16, 2022, Webster Hall in New York City facilitated the occasion of the award. Japanese Breakfast was the most honored artist with four trophies.