Margo Price

Margo Price offered up some advice to independent artists at the recent Libera Awards 2023 – urging them to “do no harm but take no shit”.

Last Thursday (June 15), A2IM (The American Association of Independent Music) presented the Libera Awards at New York City’s Town Hall. This year’s event was hosted by comedian and rapper Hannibal Burress (aka Eshu Tune) with performances from Sudan Archives and more. NME covered the event’s red carpet and spoke to artists about the importance of celebrating independent music.

“It’s important to celebrate independent music and good music in general,” Burress told NME on the red carpet. “There are some outlets that are focused more on the mainstream and major labels so it’s good that A2IM is putting the spotlight on smaller independent artists.”

Burress, who performed under his music alias Eshu Tune during the ceremony, also discussed releasing his self-titled EP last April and what it’s been like to perform tracks from the eight-song collection live. “It’s been fun to see how the songs translate and see how the band interprets some of the songs because I produced on them and hearing them with a full band is cool,” he said.

“A lot of those songs were made when I wasn’t gigging, but now I’ve been out and performing them, the way I make songs is geared towards performance, the live show is getting better.”

When asked what he would say to up-and-coming artists, he replied: “Keep making stuff and keep getting better. Document what you’re doing and keep your ideas so you can look back because sometimes it might not be an idea you use right away. Stay active, stay making stuff.”

Burress then announced the award for Best Alternative Rock Record, presented by NME later that evening. “Pardon my ignorance but I don’t know the difference between alternative rock and rock,” he joked before announcing the winner. “Is it more of a tone thing? Is Rock more like ‘I love rock and roll’ and alternative rock is like, ‘I’m about to die’.”

The nominees for this year’s award included Alvvay’s ‘Blue Rev’, Dry Cleaning’s ‘Stumpwork’, Mitski’s ‘Laurel Hell’, Nilüfer Yanya ‘Painess’ and Wet Leg’s self-titled debut album, which received the award.

Hannibal Burress
Hannibal Burress CREDIT: Nick Karp

Price, who released her album ‘Strays’ back in January also spoke to NME before performing at the ceremony. “Independent music is something we really need to nurture and something that is not going to be around if people don’t put love and care into it,” she said. “As an independent artist, someone who has been that way my entire career, it’s beautiful.”

Price also gave her advice to other up-and-coming artists interested in staying independent throughout their career. “Follow your heart, do no harm but take no shit.”

Rapper, Remy Ma was also in attendance at this year’s ceremony in support of her husband Papoose – the Head of Hip-Hop at DIY music distributor TuneCore. “Stay independent,” she responded when asked what advice she’d offer to other artists. “A lot of times it’s hard work [to be independent] because you have more work to do and it may seem like it would just be easier to to have backing. But, in the long run it’s worth it.”

She also talked about the importance of independence in any creative field, not just music. “When you’re not, you’re boxed in by certain things you can’t do, certain artists you can’t work with, certain things have to be approved by people and you really don’t have the final say,” she said. “In any field that you’re in and you’re creative, I would always vote for independence.”

Martha Reeves, lead singer of Motown group Martha and the Vandellas, was honoured with the Independent Icon Award during the ceremony. Before she accepted her award she spoke to NME about what advice she’d offer to artists looking to follow in her footsteps. “Get a good manager,” the ‘Heatwave’ legend responded. She also talked about how it felt to receive the Icon Award. “I’m so thrilled. I’m ecstatic, it’s one of the highlights of my life, it’s wonderful.”

Indie rock foursome The Aces, presented the Best Pop Record during the event but told NME that it was difficult for them to choose just one favourite pop artist. “You’re asking us in a category of Björk and MUNA and Tegan and Sara. We can’t, we can’t pick.”

They also talked about what they’re most excited to share with their fans this year. “Excited to take our new record on tour,” they said. “We put it out a week ago (June 2), it’s called ‘I’ve Loved You For So Long’.” The band also shared dates for their upcoming international tour that stops October 11 at New York City’s Brooklyn Steel.

Before heading into the ceremony, they shared their advice for other independent artists. “I think the indie path is a really special one becasue it’s full of music lovers and people that really care about art,” they said. “You get the opportunity to not have numbers be the only thing that matters. People care about the message. So, if you’re going to take the indie path really lean into your story and how you can contribute to building community and connecting with people.”

Sudan Archives
Sudan Archives CREDIT: Nick Karp

Sudan Archives picked up both the Breakthrough Artist/Release and Best R&B Record award for her album ‘Natural Brown Prom Queen’ during the ceremony. The violinist, singer and producer also performed during the evening. When asked what she was most excited to share with fans next, the artist told NME, “This silly personality of mine. I’m ready to just put out a fun project that’s just based around playfulness.”

The Libera Awards take place annually during A2IM’s Indie Week, a three-day conference for the music community in the United States. Held annually in New York City, A2IM Indie Week is the largest gathering of the independent music community, made up of distributors, DSPs, agencies and more.

Visit here for more information on A2IM, a not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in New York city that exists to support the independent recorded music sector.

The post Margo Price to indie artists at 2023 Libera awards: “Do no harm but take no shit” appeared first on NME.


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