The indies are coming: Why a strong independent sector is good news for the entire music industry


No one really wants to say it out loud, but the numbers don’t lie. UK and global figures for music consumption both send the same message: the good times are finally coming back to the music biz.

Not many industries bounce back from losing 50% of their revenues over 15 long years of decline, so music’s recovery is akin to the horse and cart industry making a stunning comeback after the invention of the motor car. Rightly, the major labels - who carried on investing in talent in the face of an extremely challenged business model - should take a lot of the credit for that.

But so too should the indies, a sector that has always had to operate on reduced budgets, small margins and high risks. So it’s encouraging to see new figures in the Worldwide Independent Network’s WINTEL report that show the streaming revolution isn’t just benefitting the biggest players.


It’s important that the indies are able to compete when the next Adele comes around


According to the report, which assigns market share according to rights ownership rather than distribution, indies grew their global market share to 38.4% in 2016, and grew their streaming revenue at a faster rate than the wider market.

That’s especially significant, because the perception of streaming is that it’s all about the biggest songs by the biggest artists and everything else struggles to gain traction. That’s still true at the singles chart end of things, but when it comes to catalogue, a more level playing field is helping the indies to punch above their weight.

With both sectors doing well, the market for artist signings is likely to hot up and it’s important that the indies are able to compete when the next Adele comes around. A bigger slice of streaming revenues can only help with that. Looks like the independents will have their day after all.

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