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Indie Labels Experience A Major Renaissance Amidst The Upheaval


With upheaval comes opportunity; and ongoing problems within the recorded music industry has also led to a revival within independent label sector.

While not without their own challenges, indie record labels appear to be experiencing a renaissance, thanks in part to new technologies and media that did not exist 5 years ago. Their nimbleness and a fan-like eye for emerging talent is being rewarded by a cadre of fans who continue to demand and support quality music.

In short, when the traditional gatekeepers and obstacles to reaching fans are removed, indies thrive. As proof that an indie label renaissance is well under way, indie label trade group The American Association Of Independent Music (A2IM) offered these stats:

  • Independent labels accounted for 32% of aggregate album sales in 2008, up almost 1.5% from 2007.
  • Independent artists won 56 awards at this year's Grammys, up from 36 last year. That marks over 50% of all prizes given out

  • Independent labels, as a group, are the largest owners of master recordings in the industry – over 80% of America's music is under independent ownership. These labels aren't just diverse in genre, but in size and business model, ranging from single-artist-owned labels to imprints with decades of history and catalog.
  • That overwhelming majority of master recordings in indie hands is testament to the diversity of genres covered by independent labels. The result is music that crosses boundaries, and may account for why indies notched the best album Grammy in an 24 different genres in 2009.
  • Spurned by broadcast radio, indies are thriving on the top internet broadcasting platforms. Overall, independent music makes up approximately 40% of all music played at non-traditional web radio and at industry leading webcaster Pandora, over half of the music users play is independent.
  • Consumer choice reigns at digital retailers as well, and the numbers reflect it, with indie market share at digital rising to 38%. Two-thirds of A2IM members have direct deals with iTunes, the industry-leading music retailer.

    Watch for a special Hypebot series on independent label in mid June.