Reports Music

Independent Artists Pathfinding Through a Pandemic

Report by Mark Mulligan and Keith Jopling


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2019 was yet another stand-out year for independent artists, with revenues, streams and market shares all growing strongly. Then, along came            and the world turned upside down. However, in lockdown many independent artists found new opportunities and the ability to innovate and create. Leveraging new, not-seen-before data, this report presents a unique view of the state of the independent artist sector in 2020 and how it has navigated the challenges posed by           


  • A sector            real scale. Artists direct (i.e.            without record labels) generated            million            2019, up            from 2018. These            artists represent the fastest-growing segment            the global recorded music business,            segment of global scale with            impact and influence. They are            more streaming native than label           
  • Success on            own terms. Some            of artists            to build online and streaming            ‘on their own terms’, with            than one in five artists            it important to be signed            a record label. So, how            do labels matter? For just            one in five, getting signed            the goal while a further            of artists want to get            However,            of artists feel they            do fine without a label                       have no interest in signing. 
  • Lockdown was            as a unique creative window            artists. Nearly            of artists took            opportunity in lockdown to spend            time writing or making music,            a further            created more content            social media.  
  • Artists have            to lockdown differently. In terms            releasing music, artists were split            with            releasing more music, but            projects on hold. While nearly            artists are now more worried            finances than before, a similar            are not too concerned and            that life will be back            normal soon. 
  • Lockdown placed            spotlight on streaming economics. Half            artists are becoming concerned that            services are not paying enough            artists to make a living.            in five artists got involved            doing live-streamed performances. 
  • Money, money,            still elusive. The majority of            artists earn less than            a            from music, yet income can            to over            This is in            due to the sheer scale            artists making (and distributing) music,            also illustrates how tough it            to make a living from            an artist in today’s industry.            use of crowdfunding platforms remains            and artists still have too            funding options for the direct            to truly blossom.
  • Artists need            work multiple revenue streams to            career momentum. For independent artists,            is their primary source of            at            Live revenue is second                       (which means they are less            to lockdown’s impact than established            artists). The key for today’s            is to make revenues from            sources such as publishing, teaching,            work, sponsorship and merchandise. Artists            small entrepreneur businesses. They need            or five income streams to            off the ground. 
  • Marketing is            DIY affair. Half of all            artists do their own marketing,            one third managing their own            budget, but            of direct artists            nothing on marketing. Less than            in five direct marketers are            with a distributor or label            marketing activities.
  • Artists are            but still inexperienced with marketing.            least when it comes to            their careers started, artists are            their own DIY marketing, but            are not making the most            the tools available. While almost            of artists are using Spotify            Artists, few of them are            any other marketing-related tools. 

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