BPI trumpets indies’ growth ahead of streaming inquiry follow-up


In April, British music industry body the BPI proudly announced that independent labels had grown their share of the UK market from 22.1% in 2017 to 26.9% in 2021. Seven months later, it’s trumpeting the indies’ growth again.

“In the first ten months of the year, independently-released music made up 28.6% of the UK music market,” announced the BPI this morning, name-checking members (Dirty Hit, Partisan, PIAS) and non-members (Domino and Beggars Group) alike. While this share has grown across streams and sales, the BPI picked out album sales, and an Arctic Monkeys-led spike to 40.5% of sales in October.

“It’s a sign of just how vibrant and diverse the UK music industry is that independent labels are set to increase their share of the market for a fifth successive year in 2022,” said CEO Geoff Taylor in a statement.

“This growth is built on a rich tapestry of talent, from singer-songwriters and rock groups to pop stars and rappers, all supported by a network of hundreds of indie labels who are creating further diversity in the market and giving artists real choice in how to release their music.”

Why publish stats for independent labels for the first 10 months of the year on 14 November, you may be wondering? Well, on 15 November (tomorrow) Taylor will be back in front of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee for a follow-up session from its ‘Economics of Streaming’ inquiry.

Taylor will be part of what promises to be a spiky second half of that session, given that he’ll be questioned alongside Ivors Academy chair and Broken Record campaigner Tom Gray, and Musicians’ Union general secretary Naomi Pohl.

The first half will see author and economist Will Page and Brunel University’s Hayleigh Bosher (who we interviewed together on a recent Music Ally Focus podcast, not long after another episode interviewing Taylor) and CMU boss Chris Cooke giving their views.

The BPI chief is a savvy political operator, so we’re unlikely to see any demob-happy (he’s due to step down in 2023) attacks on the politicians or campaigners. Instead, we can expect him to cite today’s indie-market-share announcement to bolster the BPI’s case that the streaming market does not require the “complete reset” that the DCMS committee called for in their report last year.

Still, with tomorrow’s session billed to focus on “whether the ‘reset of streaming’ urged in the Committee’s report is underway”; “the future of remuneration for musicians” and the recent market study of the music industry conducted by competition regulator the CMA, we may see some Westminster sparks flying.

It does seem strange to have a follow-up on a streaming-economics inquiry without any actual streaming services speaking, but perhaps the DCMS committee is planning further sessions when the DSPs will have their say again. Roll on tomorrow: naturally, Music Ally will bring you the key talking points.

Written by: Stuart Dredge