In an unusual move, music retail org NARM will honor major label group the RIAA with its Presidential Award for Sustained Industry Achievement during its convention at the Century Plaza in May.

The honor fetes the RIAA on the occasion of its 60th anniversary; formed by the majors in 1952, org is the record biz’s principal lobbying and advocacy unit.

This year’s Presidential Award presentation will acknowledge the RIAA’s role in combating piracy. Last year, the org spearheaded the successful fight to shut down pirate site LimeWire.

NARM president Jim Donio said in a statement, “New products and services are forever altering the way we all discover, experience and purchase music, while significant new entrants to the marketplace are literally changing the game with their innovative strategies. It is certainly an exciting time that just underscores the RIAA’s valuable role and its unparalleled efforts to ensure respect for creators and copyright holders throughout the country.”

While presentation of NARM’s top kudo to another trade unit is not unprecedented — the Recording Academy and the Country Music Assn. have both been recipients — it is a relative rarity.

The award is typically bestowed on an exec at a major retailer, label or distributor. Hastings Entertainment prexy-CEO John Marmaduke and Trans World Entertainment chairman-CEO Robert Higgins — toppers at the two biggest national retail chains still standing – have both been acknowledged in recent years.

With the decline of music retailing over the past decade, the pool of prospective honorees has shrunk. Attrition has claimed some past winners: retailers Tower Records and Musicland and indie distributor Navarre Corp., whose toppers were feted with the Presidential Award, have all exited the business.

NARM returns to the Century Plaza on May 7-10.