CIMA's Make It Music Awards

CIMA’s Make It Music Awards is our annual celebration of the innovative leaders who strengthen Canada’s independent music industry to make it the truly exceptional cultural force that it is, both at home and around the world.


Make It STRONGER 2024

The Brian Chater Leadership Award

Inspired by our former president, CIMA’s STRONGER Award (formerly The Brian Chater Leadership Award) celebrates anyone in the independent music industry whose passionate and innovative approach has redefined best practices over the years. These true leaders have set the tone for vibrant and sustainable models across any area of the independent music industry in Canada – they are the visionaries whose work in the trenches paves the way for businesses and creatives.

Make It FEARLESS 2024

The Entrepreneur Award

CIMA’s FEARLESS Award (Formerly the Entrepreneur Award) celebrates fearless trendsetters who spearhead and drive successful businesses, emerging or established, with an ethical approach and a true indie spirit. CIMA’s FEARLESS Award is given to those who combine a passion for music with business savvy to turn their visions into a reality. FEARLESS are the owners, risk-takers and shapeshifters who lead the way into the next era of the music industry.

Make It Music CHAMPION 2024

The Unsung Hero Award

CIMA’s CHAMPION Award (formerly Unsung Hero Award) recognizes someone who lives and breathes Canada’s independent music industry. This award is designed to recognize any individual, group, or organisation that may not necessarily be on the industry’s ‘awards radar’ but have made exceptional contributions to our sector’s growth and success.

Make It BOLD 2024

The Marketing Award

Innovation knows no bounds in the digital era, and creative approaches to promotional campaigns, be they viral, experiential or lifestyle-focused, make for an exciting landscape in which to launch new projects.

Whether for music releases, tour announcements, fan engagement initiatives, cutting-edge activations or anything in between, Canada's independent community knows how to turn heads and command attention for its artists, whether budgets and teams are large or small.

CIMA’s BOLD (formerly the Marketing Award) acknowledges the marketing power, creativity, and inventive fire of our indies. Who has inspired you recently with unique and successful marketing campaigns?

Make It CHANGE 2024

The Builder Award

CIMA’s CHANGE Award (formerly the Builder/Founders Award) celebrates the leadership of individuals who have served on CIMA’s Board of Directors over the organization’s 49 years of supporting Canada’s independent music sector. To be on the Board is to think of the Big Picture, to assess and anticipate the needs, challenges, and opportunities of an entire sector and its countless branches, and to advocate to make it better for all. Change can be slow to affect, and the dedication it takes to serve on a Board deserves recognition. From countless volunteer hours, to a complex learning curve, to putting the health of your sector before your personal interests, we could not support our members without the hard work, tenacity, loyalty, mentorship, and belief in a greater good demonstrated by these individuals over the years!

Previous Years - 2015 to 2023

CIMA was thrilled to honour the recipients of the inaugural Make It Music Awards, a component of Make It Music – A Futures Thinking Summit, which took place April 25-26 at Offworld in Toronto! The Make It Music Awards is an evolution of CIMA’s previous Gala Awards, carrying on that spirit of recognition of our members and community, leaders, innovators, and champions in Canada’s independent music sector.

The 2023 Make It Music Award Honourees:

STRONGER: Amanda Rheaume & ShoShona Kish (Ishkōdé Records)
(Formerly the Brian Chater Leadership Award)

FEARLESS: Laura Simpson & Dan Mangan (Side Door) - Presented by Gowling WLG
(Formerly the Entrepreneur Award)

CHAMPION: Farley Flex Nwaigbo (Plasma Management & Productions Inc.)
(Formerly the Unsung Hero Award)

(Formerly the Marketing Award)

CHANGE: Jake Gold (The Management Trust)
(Formerly the Builder Award)

(An extension of the Builder Award)

Due to the pandemic, CIMA’s Celebration and Awards Gala was not held in 2021. However, as part of CIMA’s Business Summit on June 22 & 23, CIMA honoured three Canadian heavyweights within the industry with awards for their immense contributions to our indie music sector.

CIMA was thrilled to honour the following three receipients:

Builder Award: William "Skinny" Tenn

Pivot Award Winner (Sponsored by Merlin): Chris McKhool

Trailblazer Award Nominee: Ebonnie Rowe

In 2019, CIMA honoured the next set of passionate pros - pulling from all branches and levels of the biz - with the Entrepreneur Award, Brian Chater Industry Award, Unsung Hero Award, Builder Award and Marketing Award categories.

The 2019 honourees were recognized for their incredible contributions to independent music during the gala on June 10, 2019 at Lithuanian House Banquet Halls in Toronto, ON. The event was hosted by CBC Music radio personality, Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe.

Our 2019 Award Honourees:

  • Builder Award: Kim Cooke, Pheromone Recordings & Revolution Recording Studio - Presented by Slaight Music
  • Brian Chater Industry Award: Allison Outhit, Six Shooter Records (formerly FACTOR)
  • Entrepreneur Award: Shauna de Cartier, Six Shooter Records - Presented by Gowling WLG
  • Unsung Hero Award: Yvonne Matsell, Concert Booker & Co-Founder of NXNE

Our 2019 Marketing Award Nominees: Presented by Select Distribution

  • Last Gang Records for Harrison’s Apricity
  • Arts & Crafts for Dan Mangan’s More or Less
  • Endemic Marketing for Good Lovelies’ Shapeshifters

The Marketing Award honouree will be announced at the 2019 CIMA Celebration & Awards Gala on June 10.

Special guest performances by:

  • Joel Plaskett
  • Kevin Drew & Brendan Canning (of Broken Social Scene)
  • Moscow Apartment
  • The Sorority
  • Whitehorse

CIMA’s Celebration and Awards Gala would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors:

Ontario Creates

Award Sponsors: Gowling WLG, Select Distribution and Slaight Music

Artist Sponsors: CBC Music, Re:Sound and SiriusXM

Patron Sponsors: Cassels Brock, CMRRA, Global Public Affairs, Long & McQuade, LyricFind, SOCAN and Spotify

Our 2018 honourees were recognized for their incredible contributions to independent music at the fourth annual Celebration & Awards Gala on June 11, 2018, at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. The event was hosted by Grand Analog frontman, DJ, actor and CBC After Dark radio personality, Odario Williams.

2018 Award Honourees:  

  • Builder Award: Jim West, Justin Time Records (Montreal) - Presented by Bell Media 
  • Brian Chater Industry Award: Sandy Pandya, Pandyamonium (Toronto) – Presented by Merlin 
  • Entrepreneur Award: Chris Taylor, Entertainment One (Toronto) - Presented by Gowling WLG 
  • Unsung Hero Award: Dave Bookman, Indie88 (Toronto) - Presented by Slaight Music

2018 Marketing Award Nominees: Presented by Select Distribution

  • Six Shooter Records for Whitehorse’s Panther in the Dollhouse - WINNER
  • Arts & Crafts for Broken Social Scene’s Hug of Thunder 
  • Cadence Music for Headstone’s Little Army

The following artists joined us live to pay tribute to this year's award recipients: 

  • Ryan Langdon
  • Lights
  • Sam Cash, Serena Ryder & Hayden
  • Taurey Butler
  • Stephen Stanley

CIMA’s Celebration and Awards Gala would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors:

Ontario Media Development Corp. (OMDC)  

Award Sponsors: Bell Media, GOWLING WLG, Merlin, Select Distribution and Slaight Music.  

Playlist Partner: Apple Music  

Reception Sponsor: Merlin  

Artist Sponsors: CONNECT Music Licensing and SiriusXM 

Patron Sponsors: ACTRA RACS, CMRRA, LYRICFIND, Cassels Brock, Re:Sound, SOCAN and Spotify.

The third annual CIMA Awards Gala took place on Monday, June 12th, 2017 at the Glass Factory. CBC personality Grant Lawrence hosted a night that featured performances by Charmie, Jeremy Fisher, Kayla Diamond, Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle, and Zaki Ibrahim.

The 2017 winners were:

Builder Award: Donald K Tarlton (DKD)

Brian Chater Leadership Award: Sheri Jones (Jones & Co.)

Entrepreneur Award: Rob Lanni & Eric Lawrence (Coalition Music) 

Unsung Hero Award: Steve Jordan (Polaris Music Prize)

Marketing Award: Arts & Crafts for Gord Downie's Secret Path album campaign 

We thank our wonderful sponsors for making the 2017 edition happen: Gowling WLG, MuchFACT, Slaight Music, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), ACTRA RACS, Connect Music Licensing, CMRRA, Fielding Estate Winery, Global Public Affairs, LyricFind, Moosehead, MROC, Re:Sound, SOCAN, Spotify, and the Government of Canada.

Our exclusive playlist partner for the evening was Apple Music.

2016 Celebration and Awards Gala

The CIMA 2016 Celebration and Awards Gala were held on Monday, June 13, 2016 at Berkeley Church (315 Queen St. E, Toronto, ON).

CBC personality Grant Lawrence hosted a night that featured performances by Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh, Jessica Mitchell, Rik Emmett, Shakura S’Aida and The Sheepdogs.

The 2016 winners were:

Builders Award: Al Mair (Attic Records)

Brian Chater Leadership Award: Neill Dixon (Canadian Music Week)

Entrepreneur Award: Joel Carriere (Dine Alone Records & Bedlam Music Management)

Unsung Hero Award: Richard Flohil (Richard Flohil & Associates)

Marketing Award (inaugural): Coalition Music, in recognition of their outstanding work with USS

Our 2nd Annual Celebration & Awards Gala was a special night that could only happen with the support of our exceptional members, colleagues and friends.

Credit must be given to our sponsors, without whom the event would not be possible: FACTOR, MuchFACT, Merlin, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), Slaight Music, CBC Music, Gowling WLG, Stoney Ridge, ACTRA RACS, BuzzAngle, the Canadian Federation of Musicians, CMRRA, Re:Sound, MROC, SOCAN, Steam Whistle and the Government of Canada.

2015 Awards Gala & 40th Anniversary Celebrations

The inaugural CIMA Awards Gala & 40th Anniversary Celebrations were held at Toronto’s The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West) on Monday, June 15, 2015.

The evening’s ceremonies were hosted by the CBC’s Grant Lawrence, and featured performances by Myles Goodwyn, Jason Collett, Ian Thornley, Hawksley Workman and Tomi Swick.

The Canadian Blast Afterparty included a showcase of some of the best emerging talent that Canada’s independent music scene has to offer with sets from CAIRO, Grand Analog, Ain’t No Love and The OBGMS.

The 2015 winners were:

Founders Award: Bernie Finkelstein, Stan Klees, Terry Brown, Frank Davies, Tommy Graham, Greg Hambleton, Jack Richardson, Allan Macmillan, Ben McPeek, Art Snider and Paul Clinch

Brian Chater Leadership Award: Pegi Cecconi, Vice-President at SRO-Anthem

Entrepreneur Award: Jeffrey Remedios, President and Co-Founder of Arts & Crafts Productions

Unsung Hero Award: Jack Long, Co-Founder and CEO of Long & McQuade Musical Instruments

The 2015 Awards Gala & 40th Anniversary Celebrations acknowledges the generous support of the following sponsors: OMDC, FACTOR, MuchFACT, Slaight Music, Stingray, ACTRA RACS, CFM, CMRRA, MROC, Re:Sound, SOCAN, the Government of Canada.