Business News Digital Labels & Publishers

Merlin research says indies’ market share higher in streaming than downloads

By | Published on Friday 20 June 2014


Somewhat conveniently timed, given the ongoing YouTube dispute, the boss of indie label digital deal making group Merlin, Charles Caldas, has revealed his organisation’s latest stats, just over one year on from the last time such figures were revealed at The Great Escape. This time Caldas discussed the numbers at the AGM of the American Association Of Independent Music in New York.

The key finding, given the current YouTube situation, is the claim that indie label music performs stronger in relation to major label tracks in the streaming domain. Caldas says that the indies’ share of the streaming market is 10-20% higher than in the digital market at large (ie when downloads are included), and 30% higher is you only take subscription services into account. The conclusion: indie labels are more important if you are running a paid-for streaming platform, compared to a download store or CD selling operation.

The Merlin stats also confirm anecdotal evidence from the indies that streaming income has sky-rocketed in just the last year, with Merlin members seeing their tracks streamed 1.4 billion times in April 2014, double the figure a year earlier. Likewise streaming revenues doubled to $89 million. As a result, half the Merlin members surveyed say that digital income now represents over 50% of their overall income, with 20% saying half their digital money now comes from streaming services as opposed to download stores.

Commenting on all this, Caldas told reporters last night: “The Merlin member survey and analysis provide a unique and illuminating snapshot of how independent labels are leading the way in the transformation of the global music market. It is now abundantly clear that the new dynamics offered by streaming platforms are well suited to the independent sector. Consumers have been liberated from the tightly controlled storefronts of the past. As a result, the ability to discover, explore and share new music has been greatly enhanced”.

“Independent labels have long enjoyed an increased market share for sales of digital albums, but we are seeing that usage of indie repertoire on streaming services is even more pronounced. And particularly so on paid-for premium tiers that attract the most committed and discerning fans. The most successful services are those that have understood these dynamics and treat our sector with parity and respect”.

“This transition is not without its challenges. For many labels, managing the transition from unit sales to access will be a strenuous process, and there are significant concerns about consolidation and predatory behaviour in the wider music and technology sectors. However, we are confident that despite the challenges to the value of their music, independents will continue to thrive in the digital space”.

He concluded: “As evidenced by the unprecedented success of independent labels in the charts around the world, consumers are finding a broader, more compelling choice of music than ever before. And pleasingly, much of that is coming from our labels”.