Midyear Record Labels Market Share: Indies Tip the Scale

Universal Music Group leads so far in 2014, but factoring in distribution widens the gap

Do the three major labels "misrepresent" their market-share figures to extract a disproportionate amount of copyright-related revenue from the marketplace? So claimed Secretly Group co-founder Darius Van Arman to a June 24 Congressional committee considering legislation on copyright law, noting that industry leader Universal Music Group touts the total amount of music it distributes, not owns.

By Billboard's estimate, based on Nielsen SoundScan data, so far in 2014, UMG tallies 28.2 percent market share via wholly owned or joint ventures, but factor in distribution for indie labels like Concord and Fat Possum and a stake in distributor INgrooves, and market share rises to 38.3 percent. Rather than signing with major-owned distributors like RED and Alternative Distribution Alliance, some indie labels, like the Beggars Group, have the clout to retain digital distribution of their own and may choose to let an indie trade group like Merlin negotiate on their behalf with digital music services.


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