Independent licensing agency Merlin has published the results of its annual membership survey, with the headline figure being 73% year-on-year growth in streaming revenues for its member labels to $232m.

Streaming is now the primary source of digital revenues for 46% of those independent labels, up from a third last year.

The survey offers a positive picture of the indie market, with 65% of surveyed labels saying their businesses grew in the last year, and 79% saying they are optimistic about their future prospects.

Digital is key to this, as you’d expect: 62% of Merlin’s members say digital is now more than 50% of their revenues – for a third, it’s over 75% – with 39% of labels saying that more than half of their digital income came from outside their home market.

More stats? In March 2016 alone, Merlin members’ music was streamed more than 4bn times, up from 2.5bn in March 2015. Merlin also says that its members over-index on premium streaming services and tiers: usage was 27% higher on paid tiers than on free, ad-funded tiers according to the report.

It also weighs in to the YouTube debate: 64% of Merlin members said that music-video services account for less than 10% of their revenues, including 41% who said they were less than 5%.

The report stops short of angry chest-beating over YouTube, however, preferring to stress the positive.

“Over successive years we have seen audio streaming revenues surge for the vast majority, and it is particularly heartening to see members capitalise on consumer demand in new or previously untapped international markets,” said CEO Charles Caldas.

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