Amid all of the challenges of the past year — office shutdowns, tour cancellations, a surge in social music platforms and even a vinyl supply backlog — the independent music sector has been thriving. Independents as a whole grew market share in 2020 from 29.7% to 31.1%, according to an analysis in March by MIDiA, which previously estimated that indie labels and artists account for nearly one-third of the global music market.
Billboard’s Indie Power Players recognizes industry leaders — nominated by their companies and peers and selected by our editors — at independent labels and distributors. Labels are defined as independent, regardless of size, by their ownership through entities other than the three major music groups. This year’s list particularly reflects the strength of independent labels in the R&B and hip-hop genres (often achieving hits through joint ventures with majors). Distributors, regardless of their corporate ownership, qualify as independent through the repertoire they market.
Executives from over 80 companies are recognized here. Many will gather June 14-17 as the American Association of Independent Music hosts its second virtual Indie Week, presented by SoundExchange, as well as the Libera Awards, presented by Merlin. A2IM’s four days of panels, keynotes and networking sessions, followed by the awards celebration, will affirm — along with these profiles — that the state of independence in the music industry has never been stronger.