Independent music is now bigger than all the major labels

As digital music revolutionises the industry, independent artists and labels are taking over as they collectively earn more than the major labels for the second year.

A new annual survey of the recorded music and music publishing sectors by Music & Copyright shows rising revenues for the industry and great news for independent music. The combined market share of independent record companies is now bigger than that of even the world’s biggest major label, Universal Music Group.

Music & Copyright‘s survey found that in 2017 independent music made up 28.4% of the digital market share and a massive 39.2% of physical music sales. This amounted to a combined 32.2% of the entire music market for 2017, the same overall percentage they made up in 2016 as well. This represents the second year in a row now that independent music has surpassed major labels.

Music recorded market shares 2017 independent leading major labels

It’s interesting to see how the slowly diminishing market for physical music is where independent labels and artists are making their biggest gains. Online music has opened up the doors to many more independent entities and levelled the playing field in a lot of ways so it’s a surprise to see that their biggest boom isn’t currently in digital music on streaming services and downloads.

Whilst the world’s biggest major record label Universal Music Group saw growth with an increase in both digital and physical market shares they no longer represent the largest section of the music industry. In 2016 UMG’s share of the total market stood at 29% and last year represented a 29.7% share of physical and digital music combined.

Music recorded market shares 2017 independent leading major labels

Meanwhile the two other major labels sit firmly lower with Sony Music Entertainment losing market shares all round with a total of 21.9% overall in 2017. Warner Music saw a loss in their physical market share but gains in digital led to an overall increase from 15.8% in 2016 to 16.2% in 2017.

Independent music reigned in music publishing as well. Music & Copyright said in their report that: “Independent music publishers have long dominated music publishing and continue to compete well with the majors for major artists’ attention. Music & Copyright estimates that independent companies accounted for 41.2% of publishing revenue in 2017.”

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