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News October 27, 2015

Indie labels have 34.5% of US market “by ownership”

Indie labels have 34.5% of US market “by ownership”

The combined independent sector now has 34.5% of the US market, according to mid-year figures by Nielsen Music and Billboard. This was in contrast to its 35.1% share for the 2014 calendar year.

Indies outperformed the major labels in terms of copyright ownership (and not distribution, which is another way that the US biz calculates market share), with Universal achieving a 27.6% share, Sony 20.9% and Warner 15.2% under this measurement.

Independent trade body A2IM emphasised in a statement, "Indies continue to be No.1 based on copyright ownership, the only appropriate market share definition.

"Independents continue to gain more and more share and remain the largest industry segment. Independent artist Taylor Swift (Big Machine) is also the top album of the year so far with 2 million albums and TEAs sold.”

Swift’s product is owned by indie label Big Machine but distributed through Universal Music Group. Her 1989 album is the biggest selling album of 2015.

TEA (Track Equivalent Albums) means performance on download stores.

The Nielsen/Billboard figures covered 169.3 million “albums” to work out the market shares. They did not include SEA (Streaming Equivalent Albums). If they had the total number would have been 259.4 million.

If market share had been calculated in terms of distribution, Universal would have had 39.2% for the first half of 2015, with Sony at 27.6% and Warner at 19.2%. Indies would have been 13.1% – indicating how much indies rely on majors for distribution through Universal’s Caroline, Sony’s Red and Warner’s ADA.

In a recent blog, Alison Wenham, CEO of the UK’s Association for Independent Music (AIM) and the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), emphasised that technology has given indie labels worldwide greater clout.

She wrote, “The independents, and artists who choose not to work with the majors, can now achieve worldwide reach and engagement with music fans through digital distribution and social media; they have strong representation at the highest levels and their share of the market is increasing.

“Multinational corporations have now acknowledged the importance of independent music and have made it very clear that without it they cannot offer their customers a compelling proposition. Independent music now has a seat at the top table and is a growing force.”

She also pointed it was the independent sector, not the labels, which showed leadership in recent issues as Apple’s attempt to withhold artist royalties during its three month trial period of Apple Music and Spotify’s royalty rate.


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