Indie music is on the rise and benefits from streaming

Independent record labels have a 38.4% share on the industry based on rights ownership, producing global revenue of $6 billion in 2016. That’s the top-line finding from the Worldwide Independent Network’s annual report on the financial state for indie music. Mark Mulligan of MIDiA Research authored the report, based on a survey of 660 labels and distributors. The global share rose 0.9% from 2015, and the revenue total is a 6.9% spike from the previous year.

Streaming had a positive impact on the sector, with digital outlets offering opportunities to the indie music industry. According to WIN, “virtually every country” reported that indie labels are recording higher market share in streaming than they do in physical formats. Revenue from streaming reached $2.1 billion in 2016, up 80.4% from the previous year. The market share for indies in streaming also edged up 0.6% to 40%.

The report highlighted a recent shift in what is classified as “independent,” especially as the major labels and their distributors make acquisitions in the space. According to the survey, $1.2 billion in independent label revenue was distributed by a major or a major-owned operation.

The report also looked at some country-specific data. South Korea had the largest share secured by indies at 89%, while Spain’s was the smallest at 15%. The United States showed the largest increase in share, up 1.7% to 37.3%.

Anna Washenko


  1. There is a lot of discussion regarding the fair payment of writers and performers of music
    that is being streamed – whether for a very small price per stream or for free.

    At Dynamic, where we have many, many recordings available on CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon,
    we feel that our income and our Artists’ incomes have been adversely affected by the policies
    in place right now. A look at our earnings demonstrates that through the first quarter of 2016,
    our revenues are only at 67% of the same quarter last year.
    2015 was down slightly from 2014, and I’m guessing that if we had not
    added additional titles during 2015, the difference
    may have been more significant. If this trend continues through
    2017, being down 33% in income is not good.

    And we’re only one company – if other musicians, record
    companies, independent performers, etc., are seeing the
    same trend, it’s a serious loss in income to people who are not being
    compensated properly for streamed music.

    We believe we should all unite with the others who have taken a
    stand to gain reasonable payment for artistic endeavors.

    Spotify payment to Dynamic Recording:
    Streams last 90 days 03/01/17
    Spotify – Streams – 18,115
    iTunes – TK downloads – 683
    Apple Music – Streams – 15,490
    Pennies from Spotify and apple:
    Feb 10, 2017 Spotify Sale $0.87 details
    Feb 10, 2017 Spotify Sale $0.49 details
    Feb 10, 2017 Spotify Sale $0.51 details

    Radio stations pay us 8.5 cents per play.
    CDBaby, iTunes, and Amazon all pay fairly.
    Music buyers love the free music and do not purchase or download selections.
    Many top Artists have pulled their music from streaming services because their sales
    and downloads have dried up. If we can’t get the streaming companies to pay
    a fair share, the music industry, especially for independent musicians, will be destroyed !


    Dave and Jackie Kaspersin
    Dynamic Recording Indie Label

    • Most indie artists I listen to are grateful for streaming services because they get little to no airplay on FM radio or TV.

    • Hi Dave — “Radio stations pay us 8.5 cents per play.” Let’s dig into this.

      First, radio stations have no regulatory obligation to pay anything for use of recordings, and most of them DO NOT pay anything. You might be referring to publisher/songwriter royalties, but your post is based on “many, many recordings” that you distribute, so I think you’re talking about performance royalties for the rrecords.

      No matter which type of royalty you mean, comparing the reach of a radio spin with the reach of an online service spin, is apples to oranges, and I think you know. One radio spin makes thousands of impressions (“plays” or “listens”), sometimes hundreds of thousands. A Spotify spin makes ONE impression, ONE play. Keeping that in mind, which works better for your recordings?

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