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AWAL@Amplify: Making a Community for Independent Artists a Reality


From October 6-8 in London, BBC Music Introducing hosts Amplify, a new conference for independent artists, presented workshops, vendors and demos, interviews with artists and experts, and networking opportunities all geared towards helping artists grow and sustain their careers.

Here at AWAL, we jumped at the chance to play a role in the first year of this unprecedented event… and it turned out to be more epic than we could have imagined.

“Amplify was full of the same kind of engaged, hustling, growing artists that AWAL is helping to develop around the world. We couldn’t be happier to work with BBC Music Introducing, whose values and ambition to help independent artists are so well aligned with our own at AWAL and Kobalt.” — Paul Hitchman, President of Kobalt Music Recordings and AWAL

Close to 10,000 attendees floored us with their ambition and passion for music. Throughout the weekend, artists and attendees hung out with us at our AWAL Lounge, while one of the main destinations to gather insights on building artists’ careers was hands down the AWAL Stage.

Awal Stage


Throughout the weekend, we brought in experts and leading brands from across the globe to brainstorm about everything from music publishing to playlisting. We caught up with YouTube to discuss analytics and content beyond the humble music video. We called in Spotify to help  us clear up some big questions  around music data in streaming. We even brought in several of our very own in-house experts, such as Amelie Bonvalot, Paul Trueman, Mark Newman, and AWAL President Paul Hitchman to sit in and give artists insights on how to make it onto playlists, marketing and promotion, and how money flows in a digital environment.

Digital Environment

“If you get into a playlist, shout about it! Post it on your social media, get your fans to actually go back to that playlist and listen to your track within that playlist. That’s the best way to make sure your [song] is going to be looking good on the playlist.” — Amelie Bonvalot, Director, Digital Accounts, Kobalt/AWAL

Even our founder/CEO, Willard Ahdritz, joined in the discussions, sharing his predictions for how the landscape of the music industry will grow and change. He underscored the importance of supporting independent artists by making sure they retain the rights to their music and stay true to their own visions. “You can do what you want, be who you are — that is beautiful,” he said during his chat with Music Business Worldwide’s Tim Ingham.

Willard Ahdritz

“Over the next three to five years, [the music industry] will expand three times what it is now to $50 billion.” — Willard Ahdritz

Musician and founder of the blog Ari’s Take, Ari Herstand, joined us for a few talks, one of which was his keynote on what it takes to make it in the “new music business.” Herstand also joined AWAL President Paul Hitchman and varying other experts to discuss what it takes to propel a music career forward.

Awal President

Panelists [L-R: Alex Perrin, Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music; Mark Newman, Senior Product Manager, Kobalt/AWAL; Ari Herstand, Founder, Ari’s Take; Rebecca Dixon, Various Artists Management; Paul Hitchman, President, Kobalt/AWAL] discuss the importance of streaming music data to artists.

“Music is not what we do, it’s who we are. This is the first time in history you don’t need permission to have a music career.” — Ari Herstand

Meanwhile, in our AWAL Lounge… we met tons of awesome artists at every stage of their careers. AWAL team members spanning the globe — from London to New York to Los Angeles — were on hand to answer burning questions, provide AWAL App demos, and chat with attendees about their music. A&R representatives and client managers provided real-time advice on what it takes to become an AWAL member and guidance on how to take the next step. And, of course, the bustling bar and free beer didn’t hurt.

Awal Lounge


Independent Artist

“It was awesome getting to meet with so many different artists and hear their stories. Seeing their enthusiasm for what we’re doing at AWAL along with the excitement of Amplify really drove home the reason we do what we do to support their journeys and goals.” — John Rigo, Content Marketing Manager, AWAL

We blew some artists’ minds with app demos that gave an overview of streaming numbers, explored listener demographics (where they live, if they’re mostly male or female, etc.), provided detailed accounting of streaming revenue, and highlighted playlist activity. We helped show attendees that although crunching the numbers may seem complicated our app’s easy-to-understand graphs and visual interface make it simple.

artists’ minds

“Several artists said to me that they knew music-performance data was important but didn’t know what to do with it. When they saw the App, they were so excited to find a way to see all of the statistics in one place in a way that makes it clear what’s happening at a glance and how they can use it.” — Vince Sigismondo, VP, Growth Marketing, AWAL

Marketing Awal

Marketing Awal

Even a few of our artists turned up to perform and to lend some quality advice. On Saturday, Frank Carter addressed attendees in the Journey Theatre, imparting wisdom gained from his years as a member of Gallows, Pure Love, and, now as an independent artist, the Rattlesnakes.

Quality Advice

“You don’t need a record label. As long as you have heart and play with patience, you’ll get what’s coming to you.” — Frank Carter

Rock band the Hunna performed double duty: after a chat at the Journey Theatre, they took the stage at one of Amplify’s three bandstands, performing for an enthusiastic crowd.

Frank Carter

At the AWAL Stage, singer/songwriter Bruno Major shared his story and love of digital innovations in music, while songwriter Jake Isaac implored panel attendees to “make music that speaks to you,” and AWAL artist Jordan Mackampa discussed co-writing and keeping it “honest in music” amid “a lot of bravado.”

Awal Stage

“You’ll know when you’re ‘ready’ as an artist… your gut will tell you.” — Jordan Mackampa

Like many artists hustling in the digital realm, so much of what we do takes place behind screens and keyboards, and coming together with passionate artists IRL was, well, just plain incredible. For one weekend, the AWAL Lounge and Stage were living, breathing artistic ecosystems humming with drive and creative energy. It was an inspired three days bookended with music and technology — something like this simply couldn’t have existed even five years ago. It proved that there’s an ambitious community of independent artists out there right now, and you truly don’t have to do it alone… because we’ll be there to help.

To those artists we had a chance to meet in person at this year’s conference, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by our Lounge or catch a discussion at the AWAL Stage. If you missed Amplify, however, fear not! There are more opportunities to meet the team in person down the road, so stay tuned!

Jordan Mackampa


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