Indie Labels Represent 30% of Australian Market: Report

Flume accepts the Best Dance/Electronic Album award for 'Skin' onstage at the Premiere Ceremony during the 59th Grammy Awards at Microsoft Theater on Feb. 12, 2017 in Los Angeles.
Rich Polk/WireImage

Flume accepts the Best Dance/Electronic Album award for 'Skin' onstage at the Premiere Ceremony during the 59th Grammy Awards at Microsoft Theater on Feb. 12, 2017 in Los Angeles. 

Australia’s community of independent record labels now represents 30% of a total market worth almost AUS$400 million ($318 million), according to a new report commissioned by the indies’ trade body AIR. 

The inaugural study, titled AIR Share: Australian Independent Music Market Report and pitched as the most accurate picture to date of the country’s recorded music market, was launched Tuesday (Sept. 5) at the opening of the Bigsound conference in Brisbane.

Deloitte Access Economics conducted the research with independent record labels and distributors in Australia, based on their activities in 2014-15. During that period, the study found the independent sector generated revenue of AUS$154.8 million ($123 million), released more than 6,000 singles and albums and, on the whole, was a solid exporter of Aussie music. 

“This is truly a benchmark report that serves as the first indicator of the enormous cultural and fiscal value the Australian independent recording sector contributes to the Australian economy,” comments Maria Amato, GM of AIR. Its findings, she continues, present “a view that the cultural value and contribution of music in Australia rests with the independent sector”  

The research concludes Australians represent more than two thirds of artists contracted to local indies, while 57% of revenue is attributable to homegrown acts and 44% of independent sector revenue comes from digital channels. Perhaps the study’s least surprising revelation was that the vast majority of indie releases are new content (95%). 

Chris Maund, COO of Mushroom Labels & Publishing within the Melbourne-based Mushroom Group of Companies, which earlier this week revamped its Liberation recording interests and expanded with the launch of the Bloodlines label, notes “the independent sector is important for the industry, but also for the Australian community. We sign a lot more Australian artists then the majors, creating funding and opportunities for local talent.” He adds, “indie labels can afford to take more risks, and so ensure the diversity of music. Almost every new music genre in history, from hip-hop, grunge to trance, were launched from indie labels – with the passion and low overheads to take such risks.” 

The report also found that more than 30% of revenue earned by Aussie independent record labels was derived from exports, as music from Flume, Sia, Sheppard, Bliss N Eso, Vance Joy, Gotye, Meg Mac and many others crossed borders. 

Worldwide Independent Network CEO Alison Wenham, who is in Brisbane for the Bigsound conference, described the survey as an “impressive” one which “authoritatively establishes the independent sector at the heart of new music in Australia, commanding almost a third of the total recorded music market share. I am certain the independent market share will continue to grow as artists choose to align with companies who have their long term best interests at heart.”

Read the full report here.