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Music News

UK Indie Music Market Share Hit High in 2023 With RAYE, Kylie, More

today17/04/2024

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Independently released songs and albums accounted for almost one-third of all music consumption in the United Kingdom last year, marking the sixth consecutive year of growth for the country’s indie sector, according to new figures from labels trade body BPI.

In total, the equivalent of more than 53 million independently released albums were streamed or purchased in 2023 across digital and physical formats, representing 29.2% of all music consumption in the U.K. That number is up 12% on 2022’s figure and marks an increase of almost 30% over the number seen in 2017 when indies accounted for just over one-fifth (22.1%) of music consumption.

Helping drive growth across the indie sector was the booming popularity of physical formats, with nearly four in every 10 vinyl LPs (39%) and just under one-third of CDs (33%) bought by British music fans last year having been released by artists signed to or distributed by an independent label, reports BPI.  

Arlo Parks, Kylie Minogue, Enter Shikari, The Prodigy and homegrown rappers Dave and AJ Tracey were among the most popular indie acts in the U.K. across digital and physical formats, along with recently-crowned multi-Brit Award-winning singer-songwriter Raye, whose single “Escapism” featuring 070 Shake was one of the U.K.’s biggest hits last year with 142 million streams.

However, there are a number of provisos to consider when analyzing the apparent growth of the U.K. indie market. BPI’s analysis of the sector is based on the Official Charts Company’s (OCC) data and definitions for what counts as an independent release. In essence, that means any album or song not attributed to the three majors — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group — on the OCC database.

However, in addition to fully independent or self-released records, that broad classification includes some “indie” albums and songs distributed by major-owned companies like Sony-owned The Orchard or Warner-owned ADA. Raye, for example, is distributed by Sony-owned independent distributor Human Re Sources. BPI said it was unable to provide a more detailed breakdown of indie music consumption.

According to the London-based trade body, almost 400 indie singles and albums achieved BRIT-certified platinum, gold or silver sales status in 2023. (Platinum status in the United Kingdom is awarded for album-equivalent sales — representing combined consumption across formats — of more than 600,000 units for singles and more than 300,000 units for albums, with gold and silver awards having incrementally lower thresholds.)

In terms of vinyl releases, more than 200 indie titles sold more than 1,500 copies last year, including albums by alternative rock band Bdrmm and R&B singer Jorja Smith.

“It’s great to see independents thriving, and not just the more celebrated labels and their artists, but increasingly also a dynamic and entrepreneurial community of much smaller micro-labels and self-releasing artists that are redefining the sector and who, with support, can drive further growth,” said Femi Olasehinde, founder of U.K. indie imprint Just Another Label and BPI Council independent representative, in a statement.  

Total U.K. recorded music revenue— comprising digital and physical revenues by majors and indie labels, public performance rights and synch — climbed 8.1% to 1.43 billion pounds ($1.8 billion) in 2023, BPI reported earlier this year. That’s the highest number ever achieved in the U.K. in one year, not adjusting for inflation, helping to maintain the U.K.’s long-held status as the world’s third-biggest recorded music market in IFPI’s annual rankings behind the United States and Japan. 

BPI’s latest figures on the independent sector are taken from “All About The Music 2024,” the 45th edition of its yearbook measuring the state of the U.K.’s recorded music industry, which was published Tuesday (Apr. 16). 

Included among BPI’s analysis are newly released statistics about the U.K. vinyl market, which climbed 18.6% to 142 million pounds ($181 million) in 2023, marking the 16th consecutive year of growth. 

BPI said the rising popularity of pop releases helped drive the rise in vinyl revenue, with the genre accounting for nearly a quarter of the market (23.7%) of U.K. vinyl sales, up from 19.6% the previous year, on the back of big-selling albums by Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and Lewis Capaldi. 

Hip hop/rap also grew its share of the vinyl market to 5.3% in 2023, led by a re-issue of De La Soul’s 1989 debut, 3 Feet High and Rising, although rock comfortably remained the biggest genre among vinyl fans with a dominant 55% share of the market.



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