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Revealed: Billboard’s 2018 Indie Power Players
By: Billboard Staff
When independent record executives gathered at the Libera Awards in New York in June to honor their label’s best releases, they had more than artistic achievement to celebrate.
Independently owned labels — ranging from small, artist-owned imprints to multimillion-dollar organizations like BMG, Big Machine Music Group and Concord Music Group — now claim 37 percent of the U.S. recorded-music market, according to a report released by MIDiA Research last October.
When the American Association of Independent Music, the independent-label trade group that presents the Libera Awards, was founded in 2005, that market share was 29 percent, says A2IM CEO Richard James Burgess.
The MIDiA report, which was commissioned by the Worldwide Independent Network, a trade group of the independent music business, found that the indies’ share of the global music market is even marginally higher — 38 percent — and that indies generated $6 billion in worldwide sales.
“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 Martin Mills, founder of Beggars Group and WIN vice president, commenting on the MIDiA report.
In addition to expanding their market share, independents are growing revenue for their artists through their collective clout as Merlin, the global digital-rights organization for indie labels, negotiates with streaming services on behalf of their artists.
Billboard’s Indie Power Players report recognizes achievement at independently owned record labels, music publishers and distributors — but also distribution companies owned by the three major music groups that play a significant role in bringing indie-owned repertoire to market. In a volatile time for the music business, these executives assure the continued growth of indie music.
Founded in 2006 by Florida music producer Brea in a spare bedroom of his parents’ house, Latino-owned Symphonic is a key conduit to Spotify, Amazon and other streaming platforms for indie acts of all genres. Last November, the equity firm Ballast Point Ventures put $4 million into the Tampa, Fla.-based firm, which also offers design, audio mastering, marketing, merchandising and licensing services. “People were wondering, ‘Why are you taking money now? Is everything all right?’” says Brea. “I told them, ‘Everything’s more than all right.’ We want to invest more aggressively and hire more people.”