Music & Copyright’s annual survey of the recorded music and music publishing industries has revealed that three of the four largest record companies saw their global market share fall in 2011. Only the Warner Music Group, led by Lyor Cohen, resisted losses to gain a 0.2% share of recorded music.
The losses can be explained by the strengthened position of independent record labels: 2011 saw them gain 2% of the market. Although indie labels still sit some way behind the majors, even as a group they still account for less recorded music than Universal alone, their growth may nonetheless be an important indicator for the way the music industry is moving.
It is the commercial successes of acts like Adele, signed to XL Recordings, and Mumford & Sons, on Glassnote Records, that have driven the growth of independent labels. But it remains to be seen whether 2011 was simply an especially good year for indies or whether it might signal that major labels are losing some of their stranglehold on the industry.