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Independent Artists The Music Industry Rewritten

Report by Mark Mulligan
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The 20,000 Foot View:  The rise of independent artists is one of the most important changes to happen to the modern recorded music business. While traditional label models still dominate, ever more artists are pursuing non-traditional alternatives, ranging from self-releasing through to joint-venture label service deals with majors. The rise of streaming has been the catalyst for independent artists, enabling them to find global audiences and to pursue their careers on their terms. There has never been a better time to be a recording artist, but the other side of the equation is that record labels need to reimagine both their value proposition to artists and their underlying business models.

Key Findings

           of all consumers upload their own music or singing directly to destinations such as YouTube and Soundcloud
  • The total net (unique) number of music creators is        million, with        million on Soundcloud,        million on YouTube and        million on do-it-yourself (DIY) platforms
  • Independent artists can create their own virtual labels by choosing from a fast-growing selection of apps and services, from collaboration through to distribution
  • Traditional record labels have to respond to this challenge by positioning around their soft skills and personal relationships to deliver an agency-like offer for artists
  • Apple dominates the music production landscape with the combination of Logic Pro (used by        of artists) and Garage Band (used by       
  • Independent artists are the fastest growing part of the recorded music market, generating        million in 2018, up        on 2017
  • Artist direct (i.e. DIY) revenue was        of the independent artist total with        million and label services making up the remaining        on        million
  • Independent artist revenue made up        of global recorded music revenue in 2018, with major label master recordings comprising        and independent label masters       
  • Independent artists are motivated by creativity and recognition, with being respected and recognised in their scene the most widely cited motivation
  • Artists will continue to have improved choice, with more frontline artists choosing non-traditional deals
  • Labels with a distribution business will fare best as they get to back both ends of the artist scale while also being able to get the most promising unsigned artists first
  • The entire basis of a record label is changing, with labels competing on service offerings and having less deep catalogue while artists use them as platforms for driving other revenue streams

Companies and brands mentioned in this report:  Amuse, Ableton Live, ADA, Avid, AWAL, Bandcamp, Bandsintown, Believe Digital, Big Machine Music, Big Yellow Dog Music, BMG Music Rights, BuzzAngle, Caroline, CD Baby, Cooking Vinyl, Cubase, Ditto, Downtown Music Holdings, Downtown Music Publishing, EMI, Facebook, FAMM, Fast Forward, the Firepit, Fourth Floor Creative, Globe, Google,, Hitco, Instrumental, Kickstarter, Kobalt, Kompoz, Landr, Logic Studio, Melboss, The Music Fund, Native Instruments, NME, The Orchard, Patreon, Penske, Pledge Music, ReverbNation, Rhapsody, Rise, Rolling Stone, Sony Music, Soundcloud, Splice, Soundtrap, Trebble, Tunecore, Warner Music, Uncut, United Masters, Universal Music, Vocalizr, Wysidio, YouTube

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