Independents have increased their share of UK album sales to a 21st Century high of 26.4% this year, according to a Music Week presentation at AIM's Indie-Con event.
The conference, taking place on Wednesday at Glaziers Hall in London Bridge, heard the indie sector had seen its sales of albums rise around 5% in the year to date, compared to the entire market dropping by about 4%. In contrast Universal's album sales had improved annually by under 1%, despite now having much of what was EMI on its books, including Virgin Records.
The positive picture for the indies followed what the presentation said was a difficult period in the first few years after 2000 when a number of its biggest players were either bought out by the majors or went out of business. Those taken over included Mute, V2 and Zomba, while the likes of Telstar and Gut fell into receivership.
However, since then the report said "a new elite" of independents had emerged, including a bigger Beggars Group and Domino, which in 2000 was only the 60th biggest indie but was now one of the leading players thanks to Arctic Monkeys and others.
Although independent album sales in the UK had dropped by around 30% since their 2005 peak, this compared to the whole marking falling by 40%. The indie position had been helped by a number of acts moving from majors to indies, such as Queens Of The Stone Age and Primal Scream, and the increasing numbers of artists putting out their releases through a non-traditional route.
At the top end of the market the independents are performing strongly, with the presentation, which was based on Official Charts Company data, revealing 11 of the 100 biggest artist albums in the year so far were indie releases. This was the best showing in a decade and led by Arctic Monkeys' AM.
On singles independents have seen sales grow by 19% year-on-year in the UK, compared to the whole market falling by about 1% with the number of indie singles sold in the first 46 weeks of 2013 already more than for the whole of 2012 - itself a record year for independents. The sector is also responsible for 13 of the 100 biggest singles of the year to date, its highest annual share of the year-to-date Top 100 since 2007 with successes including Macklemore & Lewis, Passenger and Chris Malinchak.