|The independents represent the most economically, politically,
socially and culturally diverse sector of the market. Independent music
businesses are generally owner-managed SMEs that have grown out a strong
affiliation or involvement with music. The independents are the market innovators
and risk takers in the music business. They discover and incubate new musical
trends and artists and tend to focus on specific niches or genres. They
have an early adopter mentality. The sector also secures a reasonable
market share (20% of sales of recorded music alone, in Europe). The independents
are, however, highly fragmented and collective initiatives are important.
The independents tend to focus on their core skills. They are rarely vertically integrated and outsource what they do not see as core. They therefore enjoy a symbiotic relationship with third parties who provide vital elements in the development, production and sale of recorded music, such as distributors, retailers, manufacturers, designers, session artists, concert promoters.
The focus of independents and general absence of vertical integration helps them remain agile, responsive and light footed. This explains why they are such good innovators. However, it also makes them dependent on third parties for distribution and access to vital markets. They are also vulnerable to concentration and restrictions on their ability to gain market access. Collecting societies also play a vital role. For publishers and writers, a huge proportion of revenue is derived from collective licensing. For record companies and performers only performance and broadcast is licensed collectively but this represents an increasingly material part of their revenue.