Billy Bragg: 'Major labels are taking away consumer choice'

AIM Awards' Outstanding Contribution winner is against major labels merging with each other

Billy Bragg: 'Major labels are taking away consumer choice'

Photo: Press/Andy Whale

Billy Bragg has attacked mergers between major labels, saying they create a lack of diversity within the music industry.

Speaking after winning the Outstanding Contribution prize at last night's AIM Awards (September 3), Bragg criticised big money mergers such as Universal's purchase of British label EMI last year. "Indie labels are more important than ever," he said. "The merging of the major labels means there's a narrowing of choice for the consumer, and that’s reflected in mainstream music."

He added: "It's easier to release a record yourself now, but it's hard to be involved in the business side and be an artist at the same time. Johnny Marr says that one reason The Smiths broke up is because he was having to manage the band, and he was only 25. Independent labels work with you, but you're just a tin of beans on a shelf if you're on a major record label."

Bragg performed three songs at the awards, including an updated version of his 1988 song 'Waiting For The Great Leap Forward' with new lyrics attacking the current coalition government and The X Factor, but the Essex singer insisted he remains positive about his role as a protest singer.

Bragg explained: "The curse of the topical songwriter is that people think me writing songs should sort things out. They can't. It's proof that only the audience can change the world, not singer-songwriters. We do an important job, because we bring people together and make them think they're not the only person who gives a shit about issues. If these issues come around again, I'll keep saying what I can to confront them."

Vampire Weekend, Daughter and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were the main winners as independent record labels' governing body The Association of Independent Music held the third annual AIM Independent Music Awards at London hotel The Brewery.

London folk band Daughter scooped the Independent Album Of The Year Award for their debut, 'If You Leave', while Vampire Weekend won Independent Track Of The Year for 'Diane Young' from their third album 'Modern Vampires Of The City'.

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