LONDON — Less than a year after being appointed chief executive of the Association for Electronic Music, Silvia Montello is exiting the global trade body to become CEO of AIM, the London-based Association of Independent Music.
Montello takes up the new post on Jan. 31. She will succeed Paul Pacifico, who leaves AIM later this month to head up the Saudi Music Commission, where he will be responsible for developing and championing the music sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In April, the London-based Montello was appointed the first female CEO of the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM). The New York-headquartered non-profit organization, founded in 2013, represents the interests of over 250 electronic music companies across 25 countries.
Montello’s appointment as CEO of AIM — which represents more than 1,000 U.K. indie labels, artists and music companies, including Beggars Group, Domino, Warp and Ninja Tune — comes on the back of another strong year for independent labels and artists in the United Kingdom. According to labels trade body BPI, independently released music made up 29% of the U.K.’s recorded music market in the first 10 months of 2022, up from 27% for the whole of 2021 — when total recorded music sales reached £1.3 billion ($1.6 million) in the U.K. — and an increase of 30% from 2017, when independents claimed a 22% share.
“The growth of the indie sector has been fantastic to see and what’s really exciting about it is the rise in grass roots independent artists who are self-releasing and creating their own teams and finding ways of being able to build their own fanbase,” Montello tells Billboard.
Despite the growth, it remains difficult for many DIY and independent artists to make a decent living from streaming alone, she says, echoing well-publicized discontent from the creator community over low returns from music streams.
In her new role as CEO of AIM, Montello — who has been an active member of the U.K. trade body for several years — says she will continue the organization’s push for an “equitable and fair” split of streaming revenues but will also focus on educating and training independent artists and businesses about how they can monetize their art in the fast-changing music ecosystem.
“Looking outside of the reliance on just the major streaming platforms is going to be more of a significant conversation and trend going forward,” she says, citing the metaverse, Web3 and growth of neighboring rights revenues as potential avenues for artists to maximize their future earning potential.
“We always need to be looking forward and making sure that we’re trying to anticipate where there may be new opportunities for our members, but also anticipate where there may be challenges arising and making sure that we’re up to speed with everything,” says Montello.
Prior to heading AFEM, Montello held senior executive roles at the U.K. arm of Universal Music Group, where she worked as director of catalog marketing between 2006 and 2010, and BMG, where, according to her LinkedIn profile, she served as group senior vp of recordings operations and integrations from 2014 to 2016. She was subsequently appointed senior vp of operations at the then-Kobalt-owned artist services company AWAL, a post she held from 2017 to 2020.
More recently, Montello held senior posts at music rights data platform Blokur and Audio Network, a U.K.-based creator and publisher of music for film, television and digital content. Since 2011, she has also acted as CEO of Voicebox Consulting, which has worked with music companies and charities that include BMG, PIAS and the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Montello co-founded and is director of #remarQabl, an electronic music label services and publishing company that champions female, LGBTQ+ and underrepresented artists, and is a trustee for U.K. charity Help Musicians.
In a press release announcing Montello’s appointment, AIM chair Nadia Khan called the executive a “fantastic leader” whose “extensive industry background, contact base, business development skills, passion for diversity and inclusion, and vision for the future bring renewed leadership to AIM.”
Association for Electronic Music co-founders Ben Turner and Kurosh Nasseri congratulated Montello on what they called a “landmark appointment” for both her and the genre of electronic music.
“It is amazing to see an organization as influential as AIM looking to our sector and actually to our own trade body AFEM for their next leader,” Turner and Nasseri say in a statement. They thanked Montello for “her valuable input into AFEM in her short time with us” and said the organization has begun the process of recruiting a new CEO to succeed her.
Montello says she looks forward to “really getting under the skin of AIM” and doing all that she can to make the independent music business flourish, help artists avoid burnout and add to the “richness and diversity” of music coming out of the United Kingdom.
“Because if we don’t have that from the independent sector, where a lot of the creativity comes from the grass roots, the margins and underrepresented groups who have got something to say,” she says, “then all music lovers are going to miss out.”