Napster says indie music growth on its platform has more than doubled since 2015. 33% of the top 100 streamed artists are from indie artists and labels.
The report is anecdotal since it comes from a single platform, though this is starting to look like a broader trend. Napster Director of Label Relations and Licensing, Keola Kama, had high praise for the data point. “We’re thrilled about this data and believe the trend shows Napster has a unique user base looking to dig deeper into music and are willing to explore outside of the mainstream,” Kama shared.
Napster’s data might echo a more significant trend in the industry that’s been percolating since 2016. According to one tally from the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), indie record labels accounted for 39.9% of the global recorded music market in 2017. That year, indie labels also experienced 11.3% year-on-year growth.
Perhaps it makes perfect sense. Once upon a time, people listened to more major label music because they didn’t have as much choice. These days, a more accessible supply of music is enabling indie artists to better connect with fans.
Napster’s data seems to indicate that the growth of indie music listening will continue, even on other platforms.
It might be because artists themselves seem happier with indie labels. A survey conducted last year found that 77% of artists chose to renew their contracts with indie labels. Merlin found that the ‘optimism index’ among indies also hit its highest levels this year. 85% of its members were optimistic about the future of their businesses.
On a country-by-country basis, we can paint a picture on artist loyalty with data from last year. Spain had the highest indie artist loyalty rate at 97%. The United States ranked tenth on indie artist loyalty at 84% in 2018. Belgium was ranked the country with the lowest indie artist loyalty level, with only 36% willing to renew their contracts.