Independent record labels are micro, small & medium sized enterprises who partner with innovative artists and incubate new musical trends. They are risk takers with an “early adopter” mentality. Their contribution to the breadth and diversity of the digital market is significant as they release 80% of all new music in Europe today. Independent music is found at the top of the charts, at the cutting-edge of musical trends and in the diversity of local European repertoire. Independents are passionate about their artists and are at the forefront of the online market for music.
Light-footed & connected
The independents tend to focus on their core skills – investing in the production and releasing recorded music. They outsource what they do not see as core and are therefore generally not vertically integrated. Independents develop local and international networks, building symbiotic relationships with other market operators who provide vital elements in the development, production and sale of recorded music, such as online aggregators, distributors, retailers, manufacturers, designers, session artists, concert promoters, etc. Through these ecosystems independents release music territory-by-territory and break artists across borders. They offer a diversity of contracts to artists and build strong professional relationships through fairness and transparency (see the Fair Digital Deals Declaration launched by WIN, the Worldwide Independent Network – 2/3 of signatories are European).
Diverse & unified
The independent sector is made up of thousands of companies. It is highly fragmented and collective initiatives are important. To leverage collective strength in the digital market, independent music companies created Merlin, a global digital rights licensing organisation. Other initiatives to bring more value into the sector include the code of conduct for collecting societies and IMPALA’s action plans, including the recent Digital Action Plan. The independent sector is proud of its track record in increasing value and standing up for a level playing field. The independents’ negotiation with Apple over its streaming service led to better terms for the whole music sector, including the majors. Bringing more value into the sector and promoting diversity is a fundamental part of IMPALA’s work to level the playing field and recognise that “all artists are born equal”.