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Report claims label-free artists made $643m in 2018


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The IFPI is due to publish its Global Music Report for 2018 next month, but as usual, consultancy firm Midia Research is getting in early with its own estimates – although perhaps in an effort to avoid any tensions with the music body, this year its figures aren’t coming out the same week as the IFPI stats. They’re out now.

The headline claim is that global recorded-music revenues grew by 7.9% in 2018 to $18.9bn, which represents a slight slowdown (the growth was 9% in 2017 by Midia’s reckoning) but the same growth in absolute dollar terms: $1.4bn of additional revenue. And unsurprisingly, it’s streaming which is driving the growth, adding $2.2bn of net new revenue in 2018 – the same as in 2017.

We’ll get official figures – which may be different, if only slightly – on all this from the IFPI next month. But one area that the body tends to steer clear of breaking out is the category of ‘artist-direct’ revenues – those earned by artists operating without a label. (One of the tensions between the Midia and IFPI figures is the extent to which these artist-direct revenues *are* counted by the IFPI, through data from digital-music distributors).

Anyway, Midia reckons that artist-direct revenues accounted for 3% of the global recorded-music market in 2018: that’s $643m in total “growing nearly four times as fast as the total market”. Midia claims that once labels are added in, the independent sector accounted for 30.8% of global revenues in 2018, but stresses that this is “on a distribution basis” – meaning that indie labels distributed through major-owned distributors will be counted in the major labels’ share.

Talking of which, that stood at 31% for Universal Music, 21% for Sony Music and 18% for Warner Music in 2018, according to the report. That’s growth of 0.6 percentage points for Universal and WMG, and a 1.5 percentage-point decline for Sony.

Stuart Dredge

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