Most artists and bands would prefer to be signed to a major label instead of an indie, but the fact of the matter is that indies are gaining strength, especially where streaming is concerned. Indie label association Merlin (which consists of more than 20,000 indie labels, imprints and small distributors) reported that its member’s streams have now grown to around 14 billion per month, up by 37% over last year at the same time.
Just like the majors, indie labels are now finding that streaming has become a big part of their business. 69% of Merlin members now state that streaming accounts for the major portion of their income. That’s had a big impact on where they do business as well. Indie labels were once very tied to the region where they were located, but no more. 42% now say that the majority of their revenue comes from outside of their home area, meaning that they and their artists have more reach than ever – good news for all concerned.
The upbeat report doesn’t necessarily apply to music videos however, which remains pretty much stalled in 1st gear, as 80% of Merlin members say that revenue from video is less than 25% of their overall income. This figure has remained unchanged for the last 5 years.
In terms of overall revenue though, indies are enjoying a resurgence as Merlin has distributed more than $500 million in the last year. In fact, 74% of members reported sales growth, with 78% saying they’re optimistic about the future. Merlin also intends to keep the pedal down on growth thanks to its entrance into the Chinese market, as it has recently inked deals with Alibaba, Tencent and NetEase.
While no one can argue about the major labels superior infrastructure and ability to create superstars, starting on an indie label is more viable than ever for emerging artists and bands. You’ll get a personal touch that a major can’t supply, plus have a global reach that wasn’t there just a decade ago.