Business News Labels & Publishers

Merlin says indies more prevalent in digital world

By | Published on Monday 23 May 2011


Merlin, the digital rights agency representing many of the bigger independent labels, has published a stats report recording the chart successes of the indie sector in 2010, and perhaps more interestingly the trend of indie label artists to perform better in the digital arena than the physical product space.

The Merlin report says that from January 2010 to March 2011 over fifty artists signed to labels it represents had top five albums across the world, while 22 went number one in at least one territory, with eighteen going top in multiple territories. Leading the way with regards the indie sector’s successes were artists like Adele, Arcade Fire, Dizzee Rascal, The National and Vampire Weekend.

But more interesting than the indie sector’s well documented chart successes from the last eighteen months is the stat that the overall market share of the independent sector when it comes to US albums is 57% greater in the digital domain than on the high street. The rights agency says this underlines the fact that “in a market with limitless shelf space and freedom of choice, and free of the tightly controlled store fronts of physical retail, mainstream music consumers are increasingly discovering and purchasing independent music”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Merlin also reports that on streaming services, music from indie labels is generally listened to more frequently by paying subscribers than freemium users.

Merlin chief Charles Caldas told CMU: “This survey once again highlights the value of Merlin members’ repertoire. The chart success of our members in these major markets underlines the fact that independent repertoire is absolutely as valuable to consumers as that of our major label competitors”.

He continues: “Our data clearly indicates that consumers demonstrate higher levels of demand for this repertoire on digital services than in the physical world and higher levels of demand on paid for-tiers than on free. More than ever, these facts emphasise the vital importance of this repertoire to any service with serious ambitions in the digital realm. Services that are serious about providing their customers a compelling product that encourages them to pay, and stick around, would do well to take the time to understand the new dynamic for indies in the digital market, and analyse carefully what their customers are demanding”.