It’s been a blockbuster year for Australian music, with the rise of A-Pop in America, and the incredible year independent music has been having at home, just two examples of Aussie success.

The nominations for this years Independent Music Awards show the wealth of diversity we currently have in our independent music scene, with a number of new players making serious waves.

Some of that success undoubtedly comes from the record label the artist is signed to, who in the independent scene helped foster and grow an artist. Acknowledging that, the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) formed a new awards category in 2012 to highlight the incredible work some of our home grown labels do for their artists and for the overall scene in general.

Elefant Traks were the first label to win the award, followed by Future Classic who scooped it up in 2013 following a blockbuster year led by the incredible rise of Flume from within their ranks.

Now in 2014, another five labels have been nominated for the coveted award. Joining previous winners Elefant Traks and Future Classic who are again up for the award are I Oh You, Milk! Records, and newcomer Chugg Music.

2013 was undoubtedly the year of Flume,but 2014 is a much tighter race.

Chugg Music have had the biggest independent release in years with Sheppard. Their breakthrough single Geronimo, Sheppard became the first indie act to hit the top of the Aussie singles chart in a decade and ‘Geronimo’ the longest independently released #1 release ever. The single has now gone 4x platinum here in Australia, and has charted in a number of different countries around the world.

But it’s I Oh You’s depth of talent that has seen them shine above all this year, with more nominations in this year’s Independent Music Awards than any other label with nods going to Violent Soho, DMAs, and DZ Deathrays.

Of course, the definition of what should classify as independent has dogged AIR since the beginning of the awards, with the AIR’s Nick O’Byrne admitting last year that the question “is going to come up every single year.”

“We made a choice three years ago the we needed to find a way to define it,” O’Byrne says. “For every different artist there’s a slightly different deal with their label with different people taking different percentages for distribution and stuff like that. So we thought the easiest way of actually doing it was by asking who owns the actual recording.”

“If the ownership of the actual recording is independent, then they’re eligible for the awards. It does make it difficult, you’ve got to acknowledge that someone like 360 who is 100% signed to an indie label through Soulmate, is then licensed through EMI. And so while he’s independent, being licensed to EMI has certainly had a hand in his success.”

“It works in different ways, there are plenty of bands who promote themselves in an “indie” way who are major label bands. The whole concept is very important to a lot of people, which is why there’s always controversy I suppose.”

The winner will be announced at the AIR Awards ceremony next week. This year’s ceremony marks a change of scenery, taking place at the heritage-listed North Melbourne Meat Market on Wednesday 8th October, moving away from Kensington’s Revolt warehouse where it has resided the last three years.

Performing at the ceremony are nominated acts Sheppard, Remi, DMA’s, SAFIA and Meg Mac.

Best Independent Label Nominees 2014

Chugg Music

Chugg Music is the Management & Label Services arm of touring company, Chugg Entertainment. This nomination comes in only Chugg Music’s second year, and in the 50th anniversary of Michael Chugg’s involvement in the industry.

Sheppard (Breakthrough Artist Of The Year)
Sheppard – Geronimo (Best Single/EP)

Other Notable Releases:
The Griswolds – Beware The Dog

Elefant Traks

Elefant Traks is one of Australia’s leading hip hop and beats labels and were the inaugural winner of Best Independent Label at the 2012 AIR Awards.


Horrorshow – King Amongst Many (Best Hip Hop Album)

Other Notable Releases:
Joelistics – Blue Volume
Astronomy Class – Mekong Delta Sunrise
Sietta – The Invisible River
Jimblah – Phoenix

Future Classic

Future Classic took out Best Independent Label at last year’s Carlton Dry Independent Music Awards and are up for nomination again in 2014. This year also marks the tenth anniversary of the label.


Chet Faker (Best Artist)
Chet Faker – Built On Glass (Best Album)
Chet Faker – Built On Glass (Best Dance/Electronica Album)

Other Notable Releases:

Seekae – Another
Wave Racer – Streamers
Panama – Always
Flume & Chet Faker – Lockjaw
Hayden James – Hayden James EP


It’s been a big year for I OH YOU with more nominations in this year’s Carlton Dry Independent Music Awards than any other label.

Violent Soho (Best Artist)
Violent Soho – Hungry Ghost (Best Album)
DMA’s (Breakthrough Artist Of The Year)
DMA’s – DMA’s (Best Single/EP)
Violent Soho – Covered In Chrome (Best Single/EP)
DZ Deathrays – Black Rat (Best Hard Rock, Heavy or Punk Album)
Violent Soho – Hungry Ghost (Best Hard Rock, Heavy or Punk Album)

Other Notable Releases:
City Calm Down – Speak To No End

Milk! Records

Milk! Records is a Melbourne-based independent label that releases the works of its founders and their friends.

Courtney Barnett (Best Artist)
Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener (Best Single or EP)

Other Notable Releases:
Jen Cloher – In Blood Memory
Fraser A. Gorman – Book of Love
East Brunswick All Girls Choir – Seven Drummers
Jen Cloher & Tim Rogers – Stone Age Brain
Royston Vasie – Water Colours

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