×
Skip to main content

Indie Power Players 2017: What Makes a Music Company an Indie?

Record labels and publishers in this year's Indie Power Players list are defined as independent by their ownership through entities other than the three major music groups: Sony, Warner and Universal.

Record labels and publishers in this year’s Indie Power Players list are defined as independent by their ownership through entities other than the three major music groups: Sony, Warner and Universal.

Distributors are defined as independent through the repertoire they market, largely from labels not under the major umbrellas.

Three of the distributors included here — Select-O-Hits, EMPIRE and Alliance Entertainment — are both independently owned and market indie repertoire.

However, five other distributors here qualify only by the repertoire they market. The Orchard and RED are owned by Sony, ADA by Warner and Caroline by UMG, which also has a minority stake in INgrooves.

Related

(The criteria above differs from how Billboard and Nielsen Music classify titles for the Independent Albums chart, where albums distributed by both independent distribution companies and the independent distribution arms of the majors are included, but independently owned labels distributed directly by the majors are not.)

Richard Burgess, CEO of A2IM, the independent-label trade group, defines “independent” by ownership. He disagrees with Billboard‘s recognition of the major-owned independent distributors. “These are great organizations,” he says, “but don’t call them independent.”

Billboard, however, has chosen to recognize executives from these companies due to the high volume of independently owned repertoire that they market.