How Popular Is Indie Music?
Alex Cosper (7/23/13)

Indie music, also known as independent music, has been steadily growing in market share in the 21st century. According to a Nielsen Soundscan report published in July 2013, indie music's market share grew from 32.9% to 34.4% year to year in 2012. This increase to over a third of all music sales finally put indie's combined market share ahead of each of the major labels. In other words, 65.6% of all record sales was still dominated by major labels, but none of the three major labels eclipsed the combined share of all indie labels.

Some of the top selling artists between 2008 through 2013 have been indie artists, such as Adele and Taylor Swift, who have both had multi-million selling albums. Indie fans may not consider artists of this magnitude to be "indie" due to their massive popularity in the mainstream, so it depends how you define the term. The 34.4% market share for indie is based on the nature of the labels. Some people who ignore music industry definitions, however, consider indie music to be anything that is completely separate from the national mainstream. Others consider indie to reflect the independent songwriting and performance quality of the art itself.

No matter how you define indie music, it seems to be growing in popularity. In 2013, for example, the site Soundcloud, which allows indie artists to upload their music and sell directly to fans, ranked on Alexa in the top 300 sites worldwide and in the top 200 U.S. sites. Another similar indie platform, ReverbNation, ranked in the top 2000 websites in the world, which was higher than mainstream musci publications such as Billboard. Indie music has clearly been big with people who have broken away from the patterns of listening to repetitious radio formats.

The popularity of public radio has also grown in the new century, as the most loyal music collectors do not want to be bombarded with the song songs played several times per day on the same station. Public radio offers a much more diverse selection of music with less repetition and isn't dominated by the same short list of major label acts. One of the keys to the rise of indie music has been the internet, which now has several websites that allow indie artists to sell music directly to their fans through iTunes, CDBaby and other online music store platforms. It is very likely that major label music's heyday was the 20th century.

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