3 Minutes of Music Knowledge: A Declaration of Independents

Kevin Day
4 min readJan 6, 2020

To say that the 2010’s were a decade of change for the recorded music industry is something more than an understatement. The business of music has always been in flux, an industry based on the ever-changing influence of pop culture and is consistently faced with external pressure to reinvent itself around new artists, styles and musical trends.

In addition to the existing pressure the music industry faces, the 2010’s brought a seismic shift. Music formats changed again, the method of delivering recorded music to the consumer changed AND the financial model of monetizing music changed entirely…

But out of change, comes opportunity.

As an independent artist in 2020 who is writing, producing and releasing your own content, the future looks bright indeed.

Let’s look at some key factors that indicate that as an artist you are in the right place at exactly the right time.

Market Share Changes

The early 2010’s saw the recorded music industry shrinking as a result of the changes from CD format into the digital download format and then again into streaming by the mid 2010's.

Major labels were reeling from the changes but still dominated the recorded music marketplace in revenue and in market share.

By 2019 the recorded music industry had shown consistent rapid growth for 3 years and projections put the music business on track to exceed previous records in the next 5 years.

Driven by the adoption of streaming in the United States as well as in new countries and territories; monetized music streaming has reignited the music industry. 2019 will record nearly 10% revenue growth industry wide.

Here is the big news for you.

2010 Independent Music represented 25% of the entire music industry revenue.

2019 Independent Music represents slightly more than 40% of the recorded music revenue… and it’s growing.


For decades the music industry was controlled by major labels. Access to major retailers, radio, television, magazines and press was limited for independent artists. Major labels with their large marketing budgets and expansive catalogs had leverage and could insure their priority artists were featured.

Recent market changes have disrupted this long-standing model.

  • Retail music is vastly diminished in 2020, the “new” music retail experience for the consumer consists of Apple Music, Spotify and other streaming outlets who are never out of stock and have unlimited shelf space, none of which you pay for.
  • Music press is still very important, music press has evolved from magazines and newspapers to countless online blogs and branded websites. Social media outlets like Instagram drive music discovery and allow artist to communicate directly with their fans.
  • Traditional radio remains vital for huge pop artists however radio’s influence is diminishing. Playlists have become the “new” radio station. Listeners are exposed to new artists and genres that would never receive airplay on traditional radio.
  • YouTube is now the largest music streaming platform in the world. Instead of hoping for video plays on cable TV, YouTube provides a global audience for music videos.

In 2020 marketing and growing your audience is more accessible than it has ever been previously in the music industry.

These market disruptions have gone a long way to leveling the playing field for independent artists. Access to the music marketing gatekeepers is available to all artists. Exposing your music to a new audience is often limited only by your creativity.

Artist Services

Traditional major label structures may be devolving but the need for artist services is increasing.

With over 40% of music being independent, there is a learning curve for this large market segment.

How do I market my content? Where do I need to register my work and ultimately how do I release my music?

Music is undeniably data driven in 2020. The ability to create momentum that will ultimately lead to larger opportunities, you will need to insure consistent and measurable growth using music industry best practices.

Often referred too as KPI’s (key performance indicators) these can be any measurable success of your marketing goals. This might be considered an increase in Instagram followers, it may mean inclusion in Spotify playlists and measurable increased streams.

It also means registering your music properly to collect the 12 different revenue streams your music will generate.

As valuable and important your music is, your success depends on building your music release on a strong foundation.

Make 2020 your year.

It’s time to get serious about the business of music.