Brussels 4th July 2023, 

International independent pioneers Michel Lambot and Kenny Gates receive IMPALA’s coveted Outstanding Contribution award to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the [PIAS] group

Established in 1982 from a basement in Brussels, when it was known as ‘Play It Again Sam’, Michel and Kenny first set out on a momentous journey that led to working with a huge roster of unique talent worldwide. 

Over the last four decades, [PIAS] has grown from a vinyl record importer on behalf of UK independent record labels into a key European and global recording, marketing, and distribution outlet. Currently with 19 offices and 280 employees active globally, [PIAS]’s engagement within the independent music company sector speaks volumes.

They also founded IMPALA in 2000 to develop a single voice for the independent music sector in Europe. They were also instrumental in creating Merlin as well as WIN, with a view to supporting and expanding the independent music eco-system internationally.  

This Outstanding Contribution award follows the “Indie Champion award” at the AIM Music Awards 2022 in London. In 2023, [PIAS] continue to reflect on 40 years of groundbreaking milestones with a full year of celebrations, dedicated re-releases, and live events to pay homage to all those involved in the company’s journey. Michel and Kenny were presented with their awards by IMPALA’s Helen Smith at their must see BXL CENTRAL – CHEZ [PIAS] record shop and office located on Rue Saint Laurent in Brussels.

The late Juliana Koranteng invited them to share their story on her 20MinutesWith podcast session, the last she ever recorded. In this episode Michel and Kenny talked about their ambitions, successes, and challenges in growing the [PIAS] network over the years. 

Click here to listen to their interview.

Click here to see special issues of iconic [PIAS] records, with commentary from Michel and Kenny as part of their 40 year celebrations.

Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA “Michel and Kenny’s story is an inspiration to all emerging independents starting out in the sector. The contribution of [PIAS] to the European music sector is totally unique. The amazing 40th anniversary re-releases speak for the artists and great music, and IMPALA, Merlin and WIN speak for their approach on collaboration making everyone stronger. This award honours their deep passion and dedication”.

Michel Lambot, Co-founder of [PIAS] stated “Back some 25 years ago, we had the idea to combine forces of a handful of independent companies to increase our market leverage and playing field. That sounded crazy and naive: trying to unify independent companies owned and run by people fiercely independent was antinomic… And now getting an award by IMPALA which has become a kind of institution makes me feel so proud and so happy. The recognition by our peers of what we did all these years and are still doing, Kenny and myself, as [PIAS] on one hand, and for the independent world on the other hand, is very moving”.

Kenny Gates, CEO of [PIAS] added “Our goal at [PIAS] has always been to expand our dreams by creating a company of holistic values that reflects a pan-European diversity. It’s been an incredible journey of constant adaptation, and we couldn’t receive this award without thanking all our staff and friends”. 


About IMPALA’s Outstanding Contribution Award

IMPALA’s Outstanding Contribution Award is designed to put the spotlight on European independent music and those who drive it, as well as initiatives that deserve particular recognition. Previous recipients include Tony Duckworth, Didier Gosset, FONO, Kees Van Weijen, Keith Harris OBE, Tom Deakin, Love Record Stores, Music Declares Emergency, Markus Tobiassen and newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, Jonas Sjöström, Plus 1  Refugees welcome!, Alison Wenham, Label Love, Eurosonic Noorderslag, Sabine Verheyen MEP, Armada Music/Armin van Buuren, Martin Mills OBE, Mary Moneyball MEP, Charles Caldas and Mario Pacheco.

More here.


IMPALA was established in 2000 and now represents nearly 6000 independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are small, micro and medium businesses and self-releasing artists. Known as the independents, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists – they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector’s jobs. IMPALA’s mission is to grow the independent music sector sustainably, return more value to artists, promote diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access, inspire change, and increase access to finance. IMPALA works on a range of key issues for its members, runs various award schemes and has a programme aimed at businesses who want to develop a strategic relationship with the independent sector – Friends of IMPALA


IMPALA – Independent Music Companies Association

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+32 2 503 31 38