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Indie recordings grew UK consumption share again in 2021

By | Published on Wednesday 13 April 2022


Independently released music in the UK enjoyed its fourth consecutive year of growth in terms of consumption share last year, according to some number crunching from record industry trade group BPI, which has today published its latest ‘All About The Music’ report.

According to those stats, independently released music accounted for 26.9% of UK music consumption last year, up from 25.9% in 2020, and an increase from 22.1% in 2017.

When it comes to album sales, the indie sector’s market share is higher and also increasing, 34.2% in 2021 compared to 30.4% in 2019 – and even more so when it comes to vinyl releases, where it’s 39.5% compared to 33.9% in 2019.

Of course, stats like this can be a little confusing. Firstly, because top level music consumption stats mash together streaming and sales data, which requires a metric for comparing streams to sales, which can in turn skew things.

Plus, of course, there’s also the debate over what constitutes “independently released music”. Assuming it covers anything released by a traditional independent label, as well as all the music put out by self-releasing artists – both DIY musicians and those artists running their own labels in partnership with management and a label services business, which could be a major record company’s label services business – then that’s quite a big group.

But still, stats like this demonstrate that artists going the indie route – whether by signing to an indie label, or launching their own label, or a combination of the two – can definitely achieve considerable success in the streaming age, despite the sometimes told narrative that only superstars signed to major labels can generate listening and income in the 2020s.

Independent artists whose new music made particularly big contributions to the growth of indie consumption share last year include Wolf Alice, Mogwai, KSI, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Central Cee, KSI and AJ Tracey.

Plus, BPI also notes, given that catalogue accounts for a higher portion of streams than traditional CD and download sales – and is also part of the vinyl revival too – some key releases from the catalogues of big indies like Domino and Beggars also notably contributed to the growth, with old albums by Arctic Monkeys and Adele doing particularly well.

Commenting on all this, BPI boss Geoff Taylor says: “The UK has an enviable independent music scene, and enhances choice and variety to new and existing British talent. This continued growth demonstrates that indie labels and artists are thriving in the age of music streaming, and are particularly succeeding in the vinyl revival. We’re delighted to see the indie sector going from strength to strength, contributing to the growth of the UK music industry as a whole”.