After 12 years at the helm, Alison Wenham is stepping down as chief executive of The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) with immediate effect.
“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to devote two decades of my life and career to helping ensure the stability and continued growth of the independent music sector,” said the much-respected British executive in a statement announcing her departure.
Wenham has held the role of WIN’s full-time CEO since 2016. Before that she set up and ran the U.K.’s Association of independent Music (AIM), created in 1999 in response to business, creative and market access issues faced by indie labels, artists and music companies.
Seeking to replicate the trade body’s success overseas, Wenham helped set up AIM’s U.S.-focused sister organization, the American Assn. of Independent Music and is a founding board member of European indie label trade group IMPALA.
In January 2006, she launched WIN at the MIDEM trade fair and served as its inaugural president. Since the organization has grown from an informal global network to a highly influential champion and voice for the entire indie sector.
A key moment in WIN’s history was 2014’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration, a voluntary initiative promoting fair and transparent accounting to artists and music companies which has since been signed by over 1,000 labels, spanning 29 countries, including Domino, Cooking Vinyl, Epitaph, Glassnote, Sub Pop, XL Recordings and the Beggars Group, representing 4AD, Matador and Rough Trade.
When Spotify first filed for a public offering at the start of the year, WIN cited the declaration in its calls for the majors to give a fair share of revenues from equity sales to indie labels distributed by Universal, Sony and Warner.
More recently, WIN published its third WINTEL study, measuring growth across the global indie sector. It reported that indie labels generated $6.9 billion in sales in 2017, up from $6.2 billion the previous year, and now represent 39.9 percent of the global recorded music market (based on revenues generated through rights ownership).
“Since launching AIM in 1999 I have stood shoulder to shoulder with amazing friends and colleagues as, together, we set out and then delivered a new era of respect for the role and importance of the sector. We changed attitudes towards the sector across the world, and ensured that independent music copyrights are now recognized and valued,” said Wenham, who was honored with an OBE in 2010.
“I am immensely proud of all we have achieved in that time and independent music will remain a passion of mine. I have decided, however, that the time is now right, with the organization in good health, to step down from my position at WIN,” she went on to say, thanking colleagues for their “incredible support.”
Paying tribute, Beggars Group founder and current WIN chairman Martin Mills called Wenham “a force of nature for all of us, and a central factor in indies being able to compete worldwide with companies many times their size.
“As she moves on,” said Mills, “she leaves us strong and thriving, and looking forward too many fruitful seasons. For that we are eternally grateful to her.”