Independent labels have a 37.6% global market share, says new report

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New research undertaken by The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), has concluded that the true global market share of independent record labels is 37.6% – significantly higher than the sub-30% share the sector regularly ends up with in other analysis.

The new report, entitled WINTEL, was commissioned by WIN to analyse the global economic and cultural impact of the independent music sector.

Authored by Mark Mulligan of MIDiA Research in conjunction with Dr. Chris Bilton from Warwick University’s Centre for Cultural Policy, it discovered that independent labels generated $5.6 billion for the global music business in 2015.

So why the big difference in independent market share compared to previous reports? Because WIN’s research bases market value on rights ownership rather than distribution power.

In other words, those independent labels and artists whose music is distributed by Universal, Sony and Warner would still be counted as independent.

A prime example would be Taylor Swift – well known as a Universal act, but actually signed to indie Big Machine and distributed through UMG.

“With a 37.6% market share based on rights ownership, the independent music community is playing an increasingly important part within the global music industry.”

Alison Wenham, WIN

It’s the same story for Glassnote’s Mumford & Sons and other top-level artists – and hit tracks like Major Lazer’s Lean On, released by Because Music in France but distributed by Warner in major territories.

The WINTEL report establishes that approximately 52% of independent labels use major labels or major label-owned distributors to get their music out.

WIN argues that market share stats based on rights ownership rather than distribution power should be used by digital music companies such as Apple, Google and Spotify in negotiations.

To emphasise this point the report also makes clear that digital music, and streaming in particular, has created increased opportunities for independent labels and that in virtually every country, independent labels have significantly higher market share in streaming than they do in physical formats.

Beneath the global figure, trends range wildly in different territories – with independent label market share ranging from just 16% in Finland up to 88% in South Korea.

Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN said, “This is an important report, giving us the first truly global overview of the economic and cultural value of independent music.

“With a 37.6% market share based on rights ownership, and a contribution of $5.6bn it is clear that the independent music community is playing an increasingly important part within the global music industry. Quite apart from the significance of the independent sector’s real market share, the vital contribution to the creation of local music in countries around the world assures that the cultural value and contribution of music is in very good hands with the independent sector.”

WINTEL was unveiled at Midem last week and is available in print and online at www.winformusic.org.Music Business Worldwide

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  • Dan Puzny

    Great article, thanks.