Rise of the Independent Music Industry

Advice and guidance, Independent Music Industry, Independent Musicians, Industry Insights, Infinite Vibrations, Innovation, Music Industry, Uncategorized

It’s time to join the new music revolution 

For years, the business of music has remained stagnant, unfair and in favour of corporate profits over art. However, that’s all about to change with the rise of independent music… 

After the impact of Covid-19, many are questioning the future of the music industry; but with this once in a lifetime phenomenon, comes a much-needed overhaul to the music business. Before the pandemic, this underlying trend slowly continued to grow, but this change in power received a massive kick in the right direction as the Corona virus forced musicians to re-think the way they operate their careers. Highlighting the un-justified lack of income after festivals and events we’re cancelled, and music streaming sites leaving musicians with a pocket full of pennies. 

Amid this adversity, we saw musicians adapt to Covid-19 by creating new content for their audiences, developing new income streams and writing more music than ever before… all setting artists up for the biggest revolution in music yet, the rise of the independent music industry! 

But where is the evidence this new, independent industry is growing? 

Well, since the dawn of the internet, many industry figures have entertained the theory of an independent music industry, but only now has this idea begun to see the light.  

“Between 2017-to-2019, the independent music market grew on average by 90%”

Infinite Vibrations
Independent music market growth between 2017 and 2018 from MIDiA

In a recent report from MIDiA, a specialist media and technology analysis company, they found that: “independent artists generated more than $643 million in 2018, a 35% jump from the year before” as well as this, they also estimated that revenue generated from independent artists in 2017 was $472 million and in 2019 it was $873 million. Consecutively over that three-year period, the independent music market grew on average by 30% year-after-year. This meant that that the independent music market is growing at more than three times as fast than the broader global music market. 

As well as this, the Raine Group in America, a merchant bank that offers acquisitive guidance to companies in the music business said that: “our work suggests that the independent artist recorded music sector will achieve $2 billion in revenue in the calendar year 2020, representing approximately 9% of the entire global recorded music industry” this comes after the company invested more than $600 million in music-related assets, so they can see an opportunity here too. They projected that the independent music industry will grow at a premium to the broader recorded music industry, approximately four times what it is currently valued at, according to historical trends. 

Fred Davis, a partner at the Raine Group mentions that: “most of this growth will come from three factors” 

  1. More artists creating, uploading and streaming music 
  1. The rapid growth of international markets and DSP’s (Digital Service Providers such as iTunes and Spotify) 
  1. The success of more and more independent artists 

Although these are American statistics, it proves that the independent music industry is on the rise. America and the UK are some of the fastest growing music scenes in the world and the UK is never far behind America. This being the case, we are starting to see some significant changes to our industry, especially in the wake of Covid-19. 

Percentage of independent producers in The Music Producers Guild

One such change in the UK comes from The Music Producers Guild who stated that: “94% of its membership are self-employed” which means that the vast majority of producers, mixers, recording engineers and programmers who are part of the organisation, are independent of labels or managers. They conduct their careers via a path of independence and self-employment. 

On top of this, the Grime scene in the UK represents the forefront of this growing independent music market. This is because, in an article written by the Independent newspaper, they mention that: “The British urban scene at first struggled to gain recognition in mainstream culture and has primarily depended on independent media to help it reach its audience.” 

The Grime scene in the UK has been one of the fastest growing music scenes in the country, which is representative of the rapidly growing global independent music market. The Grime scene has relied on the same sense of community that comes with being independent. In order to grow, we could take a page out of their book and apply their ethos to other genres of music in the UK. 

“the shift in power from the corporate world to independent artists has led to many acts openly stating that they’re not interested in getting commercial support.”

Saquib Butt, social media manager and A+R representative at GRM Daily

Saquib Butt, a social media manager and A+R representative at GRM Daily, a British urban music outlet, says that: “the rise in the internet, social media and streaming means artists can now break the scene themselves” he also noted that: “the shift in power from the corporate world to independent artists has led to many acts openly stating that they’re not interested in getting commercial support. AJ Tracy said he wouldn’t join a major (label) unless they could “do something which he couldn’t”, while rappers such as Bashy have spoken about not signing a (record) deal as a positive thing” 

Lastly, he says that this rise in independence has had a direct effect on record labels: “Before, majors would primarily offer 360 deals and literally take a percentage of everything an artist made. But now, they know that they have to be fairer because artists can do it without them” 

However, what does this mean for you and how does it affect your career? 

This means that the independent music industry is growing at an exponential rate and to be successful, you need to begin implementing this independence into your career. With these new changes comes a wealth of opportunity as the definition of a ‘music career’ has been completely re-written.  

Having a modern career in music means so much more than just the music now and it’s your responsibility as a musician to learn new skills, develop your knowledge and equip yourself with the tools for success.  

Musicians need to develop their skills beyond that of a musician from The Working Musicians report by The Musicians Union

The Musicians Union itself identified this trend back in 2012 when they said “Musicians need to develop their skills in order to sustain careers, beyond those associated with being a musician. Such as, business, marketing, teaching and community engagement skills. Above all they need to be adaptable” This means that if you wish to pursue a successful career in music then you must begin to break the mould of what it means to be a traditional musician. You need to learn about business, entrepreneurship, marketing, teaching and many more new and exciting skills if you aspire to be like your favourite artists, as these are all the skills which they have learnt too.  

Analysis of musicians careers by the UK government department for digital culture, media and sport

In saying this, the government department for digital culture, media and sport also found that “Many music creators still find it hard to sustain a full-time career. This has resulted in a workforce where many juggle multiple roles within the industry. Their research found that more artists are self-releasing, self-managing and self-publishing, but this can put pressure on these individuals and leave them at risk when developing their careers.” Luckily for you, Infinite Vibrations streamlines this process and alleviates the pressure of self-employment within the music industry through support networks and confidence building. 

“a career in music is now 50% creativity and 50% entrepreneur”

Infinite Vibrations

But we get it, honing your craft is a momentous task already without beginning to learn all this new stuff. We’re with you, but a career in music is now 50% creativity and 50% entrepreneur. That doesn’t mean that the business element must be boring or tedious, infact, you can inject just as much creativity into this process as you can when creating the music itself. Being entrepreneurial is about being daring, innovative and trying something new – everything which music is about too! 

So, why should you choose an independent career in music? 

There are many reasons why you should choose to pursue an independent career in music, but let’s look at the pros and cons and breakdown what it means for you and your career. 

“The benefits of being an independent musician significantly out way the challenges of being an independent musician” 

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Pros of being an Independent Musician Cons of being an Independent Musician 
Join the fastest growing sector in the music industry Lack of financial funding in the beginning 
You retain 100% of the ownership over the music you create  
You retain 100% creative control over your music  
You retain 100% of the profits from your music  
You have the exact same tools record labels use to promote artists  
No deadlines or contracts  
Leverage your success to negotiate your own music licensing and publishing deals  
You can be your own boss through self-employment  
The pros and cons of being an independent musician by Infinite Vibrations

When you choose to be independent you are choosing to join the fastest growing sector in the music industry. This means that your market size is growing at an exponential rate and the risk of being unsuccessful is significantly reduced because of this. As well as this, you immediately retain much more control over your career than you would if you were signed to a record label. You retain 100% of the ownership over the music you create which means you have the freedom to leverage your own success for licensing and publishing deals and reap 100% of the profits made from this. 

Furthermore, being independent means that you retain 100% creative control over your music, meaning nobody is influencing your sound or production techniques. You can decide what your music sounds like and how you create that music; plus, you have no deadlines or contracts meaning your music is not restricted to a time frame or tied into any long-term contracts or 360 deals which take a percentage of all your income streams. 

Being an independent musician means you can be your own boss through self-employment. On top of this, you have access to the exact same tools which record labels use to promote their musicians and artists, but without having to pay the record label upwards of 80% of your profits. 

The only down-side to being independent is the lack of financial funding during the beginning of your career. When you sign a deal with a record label, they can send you an advance on your future sales – almost as a loan, which you can use to fund your recording sessions or lifestyle while you write the music for the record label. However, this can easily be subsidized by non-for-profit organizations in the music industry who are willing to award grants to musicians who require financial capital in the beginning of your career, just be sure to budget for marketing and promotion as well as writing and recording. 

In conclusion, the revolution you have been looking for is here! The independent music industry is on the rise and you must join this community if you wish to have a successful career in music. If you don’t, then the train will leave the station and you will have missed out on the biggest opportunity for musicians since the birth of the music industry. We are about to witness the most positive movement for artists in the history of music; it’s time to move on from the traditional strategies of the old music industry and move into a new, fairer and more inclusive industry that we’ve all been wishing for. Viva La Musique! 

Do you agree with this rise in independence? Can’t wait to join the independent music revolution? Let us know what you think below and share your thoughts on social media using #vivalamusique and #thefutureisindependent 

Statistics in this article are available here: 

  1. https://www.midiaresearch.com/blog/independent-artists-the-age-of-empowerment 
  2. https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/files/2020/03/The-Independent-Artist-2020.03.14-vEXTERNAL.pdf 
  3. https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/features/raine-group-independent-artists-2-billion-in-2020-967138/ 
  4. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/independent-artists-music-industry-stormzy-aj-tracey-stefflon-don-hardy-caprio-major-label-streaming-a8110936.html 
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/melissamdaniels/2019/07/10/for-independent-musicians-goingyour-own-way-is-finally-starting-to-pay-off/#297bdab14f26 
  6. https://www.ukmusic.org/assets/general/Music_By_Numbers_2019_Report.pdf 
  7. https://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/Files/Reports/Industry/The-Working-Musician-report 

#thefutureisindependent #vivalamusique #independentmusicindustry #futureofthemusicindustry #independentmusician #entrepreneur #musicpreneur #indepreneur #covid19 #coronavirus #music #business #musicbiz #tips #tricks #guides #news #industry #insights #independent #independence #themusiciansunion #rainegroup #midia #research #statistics #themusicproducersguild #grime #grmdaily #departmentfordigitalculturemediaandsport #infinite #vibrations #uk #ukmusicscene


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The Future of The Music Industry: Post Covid-19

Corona Virus, Covid-19, Infinite Vibrations, Innovation, Music Industry

Has Covid-19 crippled the music industry, or will it help shape our future for good? 

The current music industry is uncertain…but has Covid-19 been a force for bad, or has it enabled us to re-think the music industry for the better? Let’s look at this once in a lifetime phenomenon and see what it means for the future of music creators. 

The cancellation of Live Performances 

Firstly, let’s talk about the Live Performance side of the music industry. With the global music industry being worth $50 billion, the live performance side of this makes up 50% of the industry. However, it was this crucial part of a musician’s career that was most affected. As musicians base most of their income on live performances and events, it was a drastic loss to their income when most, if not all, of these live events were cancelled or postponed; especially during the summer months when musicians can make the most of their income due to the festival period.  

But why was this such a gamble in the first place? 

Well, musicians earn most of their income from live events because of the way the music industry has changed in recent years. With the invention of the internet came a wave of new technology which caused changes in the ways we consume music. That being streaming sites, first started by Napster and now most popular with Spotify. Music has become a commodity that you can listen to virtually for free, and with Spotify’s subscription model of business, this pays very little out to musicians per stream; £0.0028 to be exact. According to data from The Trichordist, an active movement which campaigns for an ethical and sustainable internet for music creators, sites like Pandora and YouTube are even worse, with Pandora paying £0.0016 and YouTube paying £0.0012 per stream. The best current site for music streaming, but still not able to pay a living wage, is Amazon, who pay £0.009 per stream.  

Average payout per stream by The Trichordist

“On average, it takes 343.5 streams to generate £1 and 2,947 streams to earn one hours UK minimum wage.” 

Infinite Vibrations

To add to this, major record labels earn $800,000 per hour from streaming sites and the tech giants that made these software’s also take a sizeable cut, leaving musicians in the fray. If it wasn’t musicians in the first place though, the record labels and the tech giants wouldn’t even have a business on which to build around music. 

So why do musicians get the worst cut in this deal? 

That’s a good question, and the unfair pay artists receive from streaming is something that multiple musicians and organizations have recently begun to fight against. This comes in the form of the #brokenrecord and #keepmusicalive hashtag and we fully support this. Infact Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall recently released a video explaining all this on BBC radio 5 Live as part of their “Re-think” series. Check it out here: 

KT Tunstall on the future of music streaming

After a lack of income from streaming, this means that musicians can earn more of an income from live music than recorded music, so this is the much-preferred income stream; albeit just not during the corona virus lockdown/pandemic. Regular events aren’t seen to return until 2021, when even then there will be tight health restrictions which limit attendees furthermore limiting the revenue generated from ticket sales. 

Although, we are starting to see some resurrection of live music. Prestigious artists such as Dizzie Rascal, Gary Numan and The Lightening Seeds have all signed on to play drive-in gigs. The audience will be completely restricted to their car and see’s live performances being able to adhere to social-distancing rules whilst being able to still take place.  

This is all well and good for artists who have a big enough following and the funds to be able to pull something like this off, but what about the independent and unsigned artists? 

Music venues in dire need of help 

Well, this is where it gets a little dark… independent artists’ usual performance spaces, grass roots music venues, are facing a dire time indeed. Due to the lockdown, many of these venues have not been able to bring in an income are still facing rent charges by their landlords or brand businesses who own, but do not manage, the venues. 

Recently, a 5-stage plan to re-open theatres and art spaces was released by the UK government to outline the return of theatres and art spaces, which went like this: 

UK Government’s 5-stage plan to re-open theatres and art spaces

However, this has been unacceptable as it will still see many venues go out of business by the time step 5 has come around; cutting it very close and causing a lot of stress on venue owners. 

“Only 17% of grass roots music venues were reported as being financially secure until July 8th

William Ralson

In response to this, the Music Venue Trust, a charity which acts to protect grass roots music venues, sent an open letter to the UK government asking them to deliver more support to these establishments. This included two calls to action: 

1. A £50 million financial support package 

2. A VAT reduction on future ticket sales 

In reality, the music industry is not receiving the help that it deserves… the UK music industry contributed £5.2 billion to the UK economy in 2018 and it feels like we are still trying to prove the importance of music to the government, besides the fact that people wouldn’t have mentally survived lockdown without the arts or creativity. 

But you can help music venues to recover. In a video posted by the CEO of the Music Venue Trust on Facebook, he is calling people to send the open letter they have written to your local MP, in a bid to raise awareness of this issue and save music venues in the UK; and we implore you to do the same. Check out his video here: 

Music Venue Trust CEO tells you how to write to your MP to prevent the permanent closure of hundreds of Grassroots Music Venues

You can also support this campaign by posting the #saveourvenues on social media. 

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg for live performances, as the most major blow to this ecosystem is a new announcement made by Live Nation. 

The controversy of Live Nation 

Live Nation is the biggest music business responsible for live performance, ticketing and event management. They own Ticketmaster and generated $11.55 billion in revenue in 2019. 

So, you can imagine that they we’re also hit hard by the impact of corona virus, but not as bad as the grass roots music venues or independent musicians. Live Nation can still survive even if they took a profit hit from 2020, the low-to-mid tier artists can’t.  

They’ve released a change in their policy for live events in 2021. In order to protect their own assets, they’ve thrown musicians under the bus. In their policy changes they’ve proposed a 20% pay decrease for artists across the board. On top of this, musicians will be responsible for their own insurance and their own travel fees and the icing on the cake, if unforeseen circumstances cause the event to be cancelled, artists will not be paid at all.  

However, in a drastic turn of events, Live Nation have now redacted some of these policy changes due to how they we’re boycotted by nearly every musician this was affected by. 

“If artists weren’t treated poorly already, they sure are now.” 

Infinite Vibrations

Musicians have already been dealt a bad hand, in that they can’t earn a decent wage from recorded music and now it seems their most important income stream is also being taken away.  

So where does that leave musicians? 

Re-defining your music career and the future of the music industry 

By now you’ve probably become a little fed up with the way the industry is treating musicians, and the impact of corona virus hasn’t helped one bit. But, if it wasn’t for musicians creating music, we wouldn’t even have an industry in the first place. So why is it that musicians are always the ones getting dealt the worst cards? 

Day by day the companies which are sat at the top of the music chain are ripping off musicians and taking them for granted. From record labels doing dodgy deals with artists, to promoters who have a bad rep for not even paying artists, as well as the streaming services who pay next-to-nothing for the music that their companies are built on. Even now during corona virus, Live Nation would rather musicians suffered than take a profit loss themselves. 

“We think it’s time for change… and now more than ever would be the right time to re-evaluate the way we think about the music industry.” 

Infinite Vibrations

We see the future of the music industry as being independent and we predict that in the next 5-10 years the independent music industry will grow exponentially, but we also think that Covid-19 has accelerated this underlying trend. 

To bring about a change in the industry, you should think about turning independent. This is because as an independent musician, you retain control over your career and over your music, instead of a record label or a manager who might not have your best interests at heart. We’re not saying everyone is bad and if you want to be signed then you can be, but an independent record label or an independent manager probably cares more about your music then a stakeholder at a major record label. We’re saying that if you become an independent artist, you can get more out of your career. 

On top of this, to earn a living wage from your music, you must consider becoming an entrepreneur; because creating music for a living is the dream isn’t it? This is a mindset and once you begin to see your music through the eyes of an entrepreneur, you will begin to open-up more income streams from your music career. Therefore, enabling you to earn a wage from creating music. For example, you don’t have to be the stereotypical celebrity musician to be successful, as there are more ways to earn an income from your music than just the Hollywood route to fame. Such as freelancing, teaching and livestreaming, as well as releasing your own music.  

We understand that corona virus has been a negative hit to an already unfair industry. But we feel the pandemic has enabled us to highlight the issues in the music industry and provide an opportunity to adapt and make changes for a more positive and constructive future in music. 

What do you think about the music industry? Should we change, or do you think the corona virus is just a blip in the road? Let us know your thoughts down below. 

Statistics in this article are available here:  

  1. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/this-is-how-covid-19-is-affecting-the-music-industry/ 
  2. https://www.esquire.com/uk/culture/a32360709/coronavirus-music-industry/ 
  3. https://thetrichordist.com/category/music-streaming/ 

#brokenrecord #keepmusicalive #saveourvenues #independentmusicindustry #futureofthemusicindustry #streaming #livemusic #entrepreneur #independentmusician #coronavirus #covid19 


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