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Independent Labels Gaining Market Share, Revenues
Indie record label umbrella organization Worldwide Independent Network released its second-ever comprehensive survey of global revenues and market share, finding that independent artists and labels such as Courtney Barnett and Matador Records are sharing in the industry's big boost in streaming revenues and gaining market share relative to the major labels.
"It speaks volumes for the tenacity, passion and entrepreneurship of independent labels, and the public's desire for musical diversity, that even in these times of global dominance by major corporations, almost four out of every 10 dollars spent on music goes to the independent sector," said WIN VP Martin Mills, founder of Beggars Group, which co-owns and distributes Matador. Barnett and Kurt Vile's Lotta Sea Lice was released by Matador Records on Oct. 13.
With the conspicuous exception of Japan, independent labels generally saw small but meaningful gains in market share around the world, especially in the U.S. WIN's methodology makes sure indies get the credit for their revenues even when their product is distributed by major labels. Overall indie market share averaged 38.4 percent in 2016, a year-over-year increase of 0.9 percent.
Streaming revenues for the music industry as a whole increased by 78 percent last year. Indies topped that average with 80.4 percent growth. Thanks to streaming, 15 years of declining revenues turned around in 2015 and surged in 2016. Proving their continued relevance, independent artists and labels fought for their edge ahead of the majors and they are still coming on strong.