2018 AIR Awards Finalists Share Why It's Important To Be An Independent Musician

A.B. Original at 2017 AIR Awards. A.B. Original at 2017 AIR Awards.

A celebration of Australia's best and brightest independent musicians and bands, more than 40 artists have been nominated for the 12th AIR Awards (to be staged in Adelaide 26 July) across a diverse range of genres including jazz, classical, blues and roots, country, hip hop, hard rock/ punk and dance/electronica.


The foundation of the music industry, independent musicians and bands ARE the life-blood of the scene and the AIR Awards have an amazing record of acknowledging incredible talent.

AIR Awards alumni include Hoodoo Gurus (1996), The Avalanches (2000), The Go-Betweens (2000), John Butler Trio (2001), Silverchair (2002), Wolfmother (2004), Goyte (2006), Gurrumul (2008), Sia (2009), Paul Kelly (2011), Flume (2012), Courtney Barnet (2015) and A.B. Original (2017).

After the 2018 finalists were revealed earlier this week (click here to read the complete list of nominations) we asked a few of the artists nominated the importance of independent musicians to the music industry in general and what it means to be nominated for an AIR Award.

What does it mean personally to be nominated for a 2018 AIR Award?

"It's an awesome recognition to be nominated. As artists we tend to get most of our satisfaction from the success of our live shows, and seeing on a personal level how much the art we create matters to people. When we connect with an audience it all makes sense. The hard working people behind the scenes aren't part of that experience though and I see awards such as this AIR nomination equal recognition for their struggles as well as ours." - Northlane

"The AIR Awards are a great platform for independent artists to get recognised. I really respect artists who stay independent, so I'm really happy to be part of that group." - Janet Planet (Confidence Man)

"I have always had such respect for the AIR Awards and I have to say it has always been a little bit of a bucket-list achievement for me. We are completely thrilled and honoured to be nominated for such a great award." - Katie Wighton (All Our Exes Live In Texas)

"It really means a lot to us. We have all really felt the positive feedback and groundswell that this record has created and nominations like this give us the confidence to continue with this project. Music can sometimes be really difficult to see tangible results, so it's been incredibly humbling and satisfying to see our audience grow from this release and in turn be nominated for this award." - Crooked Colours


"It was unexpected, so it was a pleasant surprise to be included in this year's nominees." - John Busby (Halfway)

"It feels great, not only because it's one of the most prestigious music awards in Australia but it has a significance for me as it is held in my home town of Adelaide. I attended the event last year and had a great time. I hope Murray Cook [The Wiggles] makes an appearance again this year, so we can have another photo." - Motez

"It's a crazy feeling to be acknowledged, especially for my debut album; it's super dope. It's a testament to all the time and effort that went into the record and everyone that I was fortunate enough to work with and that helped bring it to life." - Birdz

"[It] means a lot to be nominated for an AIR Award. Especially the recognition to be placed in a category I love. It's never an intention to write 'hip hop' music. I'm not sure if the music I make is even hip hop. It's just the result of a melting pot of different sounds of what influences me... from The Beatles to Dilla, I just write songs. To be acknowledged or thought of in a genre that is a huge influence on my life and the way I write music means a lot to me." - Winston Surfshirt

"It's an honour to be nominated among such fine company. Especially to have two albums in the mix. Congrats to the other nominees." - Jeremy Rose (The Vampires)

"I'm sure it's the case for Sydney Chamber Choir too, but having industry recognition for the quality of your CD is a terrific validation for all the time, effort, passion and energy that goes into such a project. Similarly, the members of Sydney Chamber Choir gave up numerous weekends and fitted in extra rehearsal time to make this project a reality. It was a fulfilling journey and I'm thrilled about the nomination." - Paul Stanhope

"It always feels special being nominated for an award, particularly because I've put a lot of personal love into these songs and to see them being acknowledged makes me think I'm doing something right!" - Caitlyn Shadbolt


"It's something really special for me. This is my first ever music award nomination and it's something I won't be forgetting anytime soon. To be nominated alongside some of my favoUrite acts and friends is a wonderful feeling. It wouldn't have be possible without Yeo though; he did an amazing job on the vocals, so a special mention to him." - Benson

How important are independent musicians/bands to the music industry's success in general?

"Incredibly important. It's been really encouraging to see independent artists and labels thrive recently in Australia. With the increase in streaming services we have felt a levelling of the playing field when it comes to music distribution, which has benefited independents. With this changing climate and the success of independent artists and labels I think that the greater industry will look to either replicate this model or at least compete. Hopefully this means that more artists will look to retain their copyright enabling them to be more flexible with their art and how they can reach their fans." - Crooked Colours

"Independent music is the basis for all music. For independent artists to make a way is an inspiring truth to young musicians and kids who have the dream of creating music for life." - Winston Surfshirt

"Extremely important. It's so great to see some of Australia's most success and forward-thinking musicians are independent. You don't need a major label behind you to create waves in this industry; it's really inspiring." - Benson

"Oh, MY goodness. Independent musicians and bands are SO important to the music industry. I kind of think of them like the ALDI of the supermarket world. It keeps the global giants like Woolies and Coles accountable (if Woolies and Coles were the big record labels). PLUS who doesn't love ALDI?! Is that a weird analogy?" - Katie Wighton (All Our Exes Live In Texas)

"Independent musicians are a fundamental building-part of any healthy, music community. Gone are the days of major-label support; musicians have to support one another and build audiences and networks through grassroots practices. That's why things like the AIR Awards are so important; they acknowledge the great work by fellow artists and support the independent musician ecosystem." - Jeremy Rose (The Vampires)

"Independent musicians/ bands are so creatively innovative, given there's so much freedom and creative control with their music. I think this is what makes an artist so special and what listeners really connect to." - Caitlyn Shadbolt

"Independent musicians and bands are becoming ever increasingly important to the industry's success. We've seen a huge shift away from major organisations in the last ten years. Smaller independents are more flexible and equipped to cope with the ever-changing dynamics in the landscape of the music industry. Listeners tastes are becoming more boutique, as are the events they attend too. This selectiveness breeds success for those willing to be unique and exceptional, which is what independence is all about. We'd be in a very different position without the flexibility this model has afforded us, and with so many other independents topping charts and selling out rooms, I think it's of premier importance in Australia." - Northlane


"I don't know much about the music industry but I believe in indie rock and independent music. I have loved independent music since I was 15, it's the best kind of music." - John Busby (Halfway)

"Independent acts are really important. Particularly when the music industry is changing so much. Mid-sized acts who stay independent can actually make a proper living. So I think it's important for people to see independent acts be successful to show that it is possible to do it all yourself." - Janet Planet (Confidence Man)

"I think they're integral to its success, particularly today as we see more and more independent artists becoming successful. Personally I think the best music often comes from independent artists, due to the level of commitment and passion it takes to build and sustain a career, and I think that's really made evident in the music. It's based on the love for the art - that's why we do it." - Birdz

"Although small organisations such as Sydney Chamber Choir have relatively few resources, we are able to make a relatively high-impact in our respective creative spaces. This was certainly the case in this project where a tiny budget, a bit of in-kind support and a whole lot of creative energy went a long way. For me, independent musicians are at the core of music making in this country. It's great that these Awards highlight the achievements of recordings made in the space, even if it's only to argue for a continuation of similar projects." - Paul Stanhope

"Having independent artists, musicians and bands is very important to the vitality of Australian music. More so, having their work recognised provides a lot of hope and motivation to other independent artists that they also could be recognised and cherished by their peers and industry." - Motez

The 12th AIR Awards will be staged at Adelaide’s Queen’s Theatre Thursday 26 July, 2018.

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