The Brag Media
Opinion May 1, 2024

How Music-Tech and the Indies Are Entering a Golden Era

How Music-Tech and the Indies Are Entering a Golden Era

When Spotify announced another bumper set of yearly results in February, the streaming music giant and its reps didn’t just brag about the impressive, and growing revenue, its swelling user base. 

The independents, we learned, generated about $4.5 billion from Spotify in 2023, a figure that represents roughly half the $9 billion in revenue reported by the streamer, a new record.

Never before had the independents, a community historically squeezed out by gatekeepers, accounted for about half of what the entire industry generated on Spotify, a tech brand now responsible for the lion’s share of global recorded music revenue.

It was too good a story to not tell. Often, however, the best tales are hiding in plain sight.

This is one of them.

The independents have never lacked for talent, or numbers, but for access to market, and sustained attention.

The indies, the DIY players, are now organised and retooled for a digital future, a movement that has coincided with, and been facilitated by, a wave of mergers and acquisitions in the music tech space.

I foreshadowed this change in 2021. The business I now lead as CEO, Vinyl Group, is part of this music revolution.

M&A in other tech sectors has been considerably less exciting than expected when the tech sector crashed in 2022, and many startups were simply forced to close shop.

That hasn’t been the case for music tech.

Spotify and a handful of platforms, along with the ongoing licensing of music, everywhere, has turned around the fortunes of the recording industry, arriving at a moment in time when piracy was winning.

With growth and a path to a rosier future comes investment.

Just ten years ago, many bright sparks figured the music industry was a basket case. Now, the smartest kids in the room are returning to the industry, investors are clamouring on board. And artists have options and a direct line to consumers.

Music has, for the first time in the long time, looked like a winner.

Vinyl Group and Songtradr are making the most of these exciting times.

Earlier this year, Vinyl Group, the only music-focused enterprise on the ASX, completed the acquisition of The Brag Media, Australia’s largest youth publisher with its range of titles including Rolling Stone AU/NZ, Variety Australia, Tone Deaf and trade title The Music Network. The Brag Media sits alongside the business’s three pillars, music credits business Jaxsta; the leading music industry social-professional network and talent marketplace Vampr; and, the online record store.

Speaking at the inaugural SXSW Sydney in 2023, Songtradr CEO Paul Wiltshire addressed the business’s fresh acquisition of Bandcamp. “We’re very confident about the future and where we’re going to be able to go together,” he remarked.

Paul Wiltshire

Songtradr’s Paul Wiltshire.

Independent artists and fans are at the core of the business and everything we do. 

Music-tech has made it cheaper than ever to create original world-class tracks, distribute your release, build a fan base, sell merch – all from the comfort of your bedroom. Or on a train.

Self-service, as opposed to artist services from a label or distributor, is now a truly viable and exciting career option and choice for independent musicians.

That was true in 2021, and it remains even more so now.

An artist in 2024 can create a tune on a smartphone, upload it, and make a career. U.S. artist d4vd (pronounced “David”) did it with the track “Romantic Homicide,” using software created by Singapore-based BandLab Technologies. After going viral on TikTok, the track cracked the Billboard Hot 100, the youngster signed to Darkroom/Interscope, and landed spots on major festival bills.

It’s one of many, countless DIY stories, many of which are yet to be told.

For now, the numbers tell part of the story. Spotify’s $4.5 billion independents story is a sign that we’re living in the most exciting time for indie artists, perhaps in history.

Josh Simons is CEO of Sydney-based, ASX-listed Vinyl Group, leading Jaxsta, Vampr, and The Brag Media, publishers of The Music Network.


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