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Day In The Life: Lara Baker, Events & Marketing Manager, Association of Independent Music (AIM)

Blog by Louise Dodgson under Finance, Law & Music Business, Live, Music Training & Careers, Record Labels

I’m going to start with a disclaimer: this is by no means an ordinary day in my life! It’s Tuesday 3rd September 2013; the day I’ve been working towards for a full 12 months.  It’s the third annual AIM Independent Music Awards.
 
On an ordinary day I head over to the AIM office in leafy Chiswick and spend most of the day at my desk doing all the usual things that go on in an office – answering lots of emails, dealing with phone calls from members, meeting with labels, sponsors and events partners.  But all of those ordinary days this year have been leading up to this one VERY. BIG. DAY.  Tonight over 700 of the music industry’s finest will descend on The Brewery to celebrate the great and good of the independent sector, and I’m in charge.  Gulp.
 
8:30am – After a restless night’s sleep I drag myself out of bed.  I’ve never been a morning person and so I find 8.30am a real struggle, though most of my friends and family think I must have some sort of doss job to be able to get up this ‘late’. I prefer to not even have a conversation before 11am if I can help it.  It’s a good job then that I work in music industry events so I’m often found working right up until 10 or 11pm, hosting socials, conferences and the awards.
 
9:30am – I check emails that have come in overnight whilst having a cup of tea.  There’s a lot of last minute questions from guest presenters, requests for press accreditation and changes in menu orders for tables, so I deal with these before setting off for The Brewery in Clerkenwell, where the awards will take place for the second time.
 
11:00am – I arrive at The Brewery and meet with Simon Cryer, our Production Manager.  He’s been on site since god knows what hour, overseeing the stage build and crew.  He’s doing a terrific job and the stage is already taking shape.  I then meet with the rest of the AIM Awards team – Kelly Bennaton and Fran Mills and we discuss the schedule for the day and begin unpacking boxes.  Fran heads out to the shop to pick up rider items for hosts Huw Stephens and Steve Lamacq and this evening’s performers. Thankfully, none of our VIPs are the demanding types, so we haven’t had a long list of odd rider requests!
 
12:00pm – Huw and Steve arrive for a dress rehearsal.  After a quick cuppa they’re whisked onto stage and begin going through their lines. Kelly, Fran and I watch with Simon, looking out for any potential issues with timings, script, music etc.  Huw and Steve are consummate professionals, and such a pleasure to work with.  This is their third AIM Awards, so they know the drill and the rehearsal goes without any hitches.  I call them a taxi and they head back to BBC HQ together to do their afternoon shows on 6Music and Radio 1.
 
1:00pm – A buffet lunch for the crew arrives and I quickly scoff a few sandwiches whilst catching up on emails.  There are a few last minute dropouts and press requests so I reconfigure the table plan slightly and notify our PR team, Freeman PR, who will be arriving later on.  Then it’s time to put out the evening’s programmes and set up the foyer for arrivals.
 
3:00pm – The evening’s performers are in the building and it’s time for the first soundcheck.  I’m supposed to be popping out to get a blow dry at a nearby hair salon at this point (an awards hostess needs red carpet hair, right?), but this is postponed when it transpires that we have sound issues.  The venue has a decibel limit imposed as part of their licence and the first band to soundcheck is going over this.  The venue isn’t happy.  The band is turned off and understandably they’re not happy either.  Thankfully Simon manages to resolve the situation and soundcheck resumes.
 
4:00pm – I finally get my hair done!  Another chance to catch up on emails that are now coming through thick and fast.  Whilst I’m not paying attention the hairdresser gets carried away backcombing and I leave looking like a bit of a pillock.
 
5:00pm – I rush back to the venue; it’s now only an hour until doors open to guests and I feel a rush of excitement and nerves.  It’s fantastic to see something you’ve worked on for so long take shape, that’s what makes working in events so rewarding.
 
When I reach The Brewery, Freeman PR are in the building and set up ready to greet press guests.  The red carpet and photo boards are ready and our official photographers are setting up their lighting. Our team of volunteers arrives and are armed with wristbands and guestlists ready for the doors to open.  I throw my dress and heels on in the loo (it’s a glamorous life) and rush out just in time for a quick talk through the schedule with the venue’s Event Manager.
 
6:00pm – And we’re open!  I position myself in the foyer, greeting our guests along with the rest of the AIM team.  The awards are completely sold out this year and for the first time we’re expecting a lot of the nominated artists.  Among the first to arrive are Billy Bragg, The xx and The Computers, and the red carpet is suddenly buzzing with camera flashes whilst interviewers jostle to get a few words with the nominees.
 
7:30pm – After a drinks reception where guests are treated to Jack Daniels cocktails and Signature Brew beers (none for me yet, sadly), everyone heads upstairs for a swanky 3-course dinner in the Porter Tun.  I, however, head down into the basement with the crew for some supper.  It’s not as bad as it sounds, there’s even cake!
 
9:00pm – Back upstairs, guests are polishing off desserts and it’s time to get the show on the road!  I position myself side of stage along with Simon and Kelly, and AIM’s CEO Alison Wenham takes to the stage to introduce our first guest presenter.  Richard Hawley has come along to surprise our host Steve Lamacq with a Special Recognition Award to mark 20 years on BBC Radio.  This is obviously not in Steve’s version of the script and he heads on stage to accept the award, touched by Richard’s very funny speech (and a bit confused).
 
9:15pm – It’s time for the first performance – we’ve kept the performers a secret so there’s an audible gasp of excitement as Franz Ferdinand take to the stage.  Having booked them 6 months ago, it’s an amazing fluke that their album came out last week and they happen to be number 1 in the Independent Album chart – it doesn’t get any better than that!
 
10:30pm – After a host of awards are presented to the likes of The xx, Django Django, Enter Shikari, Daughter and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, there’s a loud cheer around the room when Warp are declared Independent Label Of The Year.  
 
There’s then heartfelt tribute messages and standing ovations for both Geoff Travis, who picks up the evening’s Pioneer Award, and Billy Bragg, who collects the Outstanding Contribution to music prize and states that “AIM CAN organise a piss up in a brewery!”.  This pleases me.  New AIM slogan perhaps?
 
11:20pm – After a late start and over-running a bit, the ceremony is complete for another year and guests begin to wander downstairs for the afterparty, hosted by indie club night Propaganda.  It’s been a long day and my feet are killing me, but at this point I am officially off-duty and can join in the fun (after sorting taxis for the hosts and searching for a trophy that’s gone walkabouts).  Wine in hand, I head to the dancefloor and request some questionable nu-metal.
 
3:00am – The lights come up and we’re all turfed out.  I head home in a taxi with the boyfriend who’s already fast asleep. At home I spend another hour awake, reading through all the tweets about the night – the amount of chatter about the awards and love being shown to the winners is incredible and very heart-warming.  Finally, I fall asleep a very happy (and tired) girl at around 5am. 

Keep up to date with Lara and the AIM Independent Music Awards on Twitter:

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association of independent music, aim, aim independent music awards, record labels, independent record company, indie record labels, record companies

 

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