News December 14, 2018

Indie label champion Alison Wenham steps down from WIN: “We changed attitudes across the world”

Staff Writer
Indie label champion Alison Wenham steps down from WIN: “We changed attitudes across the world”

Alison Wenham, one of the indie sector’s most ardent champions, is stepping down as CEO of Worldwide Independent Network (WIN).

Under her 12-year-watch, she showed how her vision and strategic plan was backed up by a sharp negotiation skill, as Wenham gave the independent sector received a badly needed global voice and focus on issues.

Wenham was chair/CEO of UK indies body AIM which she formed in 1999.

She helped set up WIN in 2006 and became its head in 2016 as it would give her a wider global role.

Wenham helped with the formation of the American Assn. of Independent Music and is a founding board member of European indie label trade group IMPALA.

Among her victories:

* Focussed on gathering data for both the indie sector and others to provide a focus on, and find solutions for, issues facing the sector.

One of these initiatives was the annual Wintel report which assessed indies’ global share according to ownership, rather than distribution, which gave a different slant on the indies’ clout.

The latest report, issued this month, showed that globally the sector rose to a 39.9% share with revenues growing by 10.9% to $6.9 billion in 2017 in 33 music markets.

* Brokered 2014’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration where 1,000 labels in 29 countries promised to promote fair and transparent accounting to artists and music companies.

* Pressurised majors Universal, Sony and Warner to include indie labels and artists when they began paying out dividends from their lucrative sale of their Spotify shares.

They agreed on the condition “their contracts called for it.”

* Successfully negotiated for Apple to pay indies the same rate as majors when it launched iTunes.

* Was among the initiators of the indies’ digital rights association Merlin.

* Held collection societies around the world to account, and monitored their efficiency, accuracy and transparency.

* Called out larger corporations who abused their market power.

In a farewell note, Wenham said, “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to devote two decades of my life and career to helping ensure the stability and continued growth of the independent music sector.

“Since launching AIM in 1999 I have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with amazing friends and colleagues as, together, we set out and then delivered a new era of respect for the role and importance of the sector.

“We changed attitudes towards the sector across the world, and ensured that independent music copyrights are now recognised and valued.

“I am immensely proud of all we have achieved in that time and independent music will remain a passion of mine.

“I have decided, however, that the time is now right, with the organisation in good health, to step down from my position at WIN.

“I want to thank everybody I have worked with over the years for their incredible support.”

WIN chairman Martin Mills, founder of the Beggars Group, described Wenham as “a force of nature for all of us, and a central factor in indies being able to compete worldwide with companies many times their size”.

He added: “As she moves on, she leaves us strong and thriving, and looking forward to many fruitful seasons.

“For that we are eternally grateful to her.”

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