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Indie label market share went up last year, according to latest WINTEL report

By | Published on Monday 23 October 2017

World Independent Network (WIN)

The Worldwide Independent Network has published the second edition of its WINTEL report, which seeks to map the global market share of independent record companies combined, based on copyright ownership rather than distribution.

As previously reported, this is an important distinction for the indies. A not insignificant number of independent labels ultimately rely on one of the majors to get their physical and/or digital music to market. The majors then include those releases in their figures, even though they only distribute those recordings, not control them.

That makes it look like the majors control more of the recorded music catalogue than they actually do. Which has more significance than mere bragging rights, given that in the streaming era, market share can have an impact on the terms agreed in the big deals with the streaming platforms.

Or, in the words of WIN: “The claiming of market share by these international corporations, which currently amounts to $1.2 billion of revenue that should be attributed to the independent sector, distorts the true picture of market value. [This is] important because market share is used by the leading digital music companies such as Apple, Google and Spotify in negotiations with the independent sector and often determines the levels of remuneration paid by these companies to music right holders”.

According to this year’s edition of WINTEL, produced for WIN by research firm MIDIA, the global market share of indie labels based on copyright ownership rose by just under one per cent last year to 38.4%, resulting in a rise in revenues of 6.9% to $6 billion. The report also considers how things vary from country to country, noting that the US saw the largest swing in favour of the indies last year of 1.7%, while in Japan the indie share was down slightly by 0.3%. Indie share was also down slightly in the UK.

Says WIN boss Alison Wenham: “The WINTEL 2017 report tells the story of another strong year for the independent sector. It has seen solid growth overall and an astonishing increase in streaming revenues. Both are trends we are confident will continue. It is important when making sense of the global market for independent music that we continue to use ownership rather than distribution as the method of calculation. The claiming of market share through distribution by major labels distorts the true value of the independent market and creates a false picture of the amazing growth and vitality of our sector”.

Meanwhile Paul Pacifico, CEO of the UK’s Association Of Independent Music, added: “The music industry has always been driven by cutting edge companies run by innovative entrepreneurs. The WINTEL report clearly shows that this holds true in the digital age. The WINTEL report shines an important spotlight on the independent businesses, which together, make up over one third of the global music market and who occupy the most exciting, creative and compelling space in music both creatively and commercially”.