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State of Indie Music 2013
by
Alex Cosper (1/10/13)


Independent music has climbed to represent about a third of all music sales, according to a report published by Billboard in January 2013. For the year 2012 indie labels collectively had a market share of 32.6 percent compared with 32.1 percent the previous year. The indie share eclipsed each of the major labels, who each remained under 25 percent market share. The top major label was Universal, followed by Sony, Warner Music Group and EMI.

On Billboard's yearend album chart, indie artist Adele had the number one album, 21 for the second year in a row, selling 4.4 million units. Part of the reason for the same album staying at the top is that there simply weren't many huge sellers in 2012. The indie market has been resilient throughout the past decade while the major labels have experienced financial disappointment. Although only a small percentage of indie labels rival the sales of major labels, there has been a consistent pattern developing over the past decade in which more and more attention has been paid to indie releases.

Total album sales for 2012 declined four percent from 2011. While CD sales were down 13.5 percent, downloads gained 14 percent to reach a new all time high. The CD has been steadily falling in sales since 2000 while digital downloads have been rising since 2003. Part of the reason indie music remains strong is the wider musical diversity. Taylor Swift, whose hit "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" topped many year-end countdowns, is considered an indie artist and has been a top grossing concert act in recent years.

Several former major label acts, such as Paul McCartney, have moved on to independent labels, which has helped raise indie's profile. Other former majors gone indie include Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Collective Soul, John Mellencamp and The Eagles.





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