What you need to know

  • Streaming services have boosted indie labels to new heights never seen before says a new report.
  • Independent indie labels now account for 40% of the music market.
  • This has been helped by their inclusion in popular paylists.

Once upon a time, indie music was the down and trodden music genre that only the cool kids listened to but now it is one of the most popular. According to a new report from CNET, music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify have tremendously helped in the meteoric rise of indie music and their labels.

The meteoric popularity of streaming has lifted fortunes across the recording industry. But streaming also has been quietly shoring up the indie sector that exists outside the big three major labels. By nudging people to listen to a wider variety of artists, the services helping listeners stumble upon music outside a rigid mainstream. And by reconceptualizing how we pay for music, the services help indie artists and labels take more nibbles of superstars' lunch.

The "optimism index" amongindies hit its highest level this year, according to this month's annual membership survey by Merlin, a group representing more than 2,000 independent labels and music companies. Eighty-five percent of its members were optimistic about the future of their businesses, coinciding with their digital income swelling thanks to streaming.

The focus has now shifted from the major record labels to indie labels who have seen their market share double.

"The Kool-Aid of the majors is over," Allen Kovac, CEO of independent rock label Eleven Seven, said in an interview. He referenced a Worldwide Independent Network report: that Indies represent 40% of the market , double their level two decades ago. "That tells you everything."

The report went on to outline how easy it is to listen to music, opening up avenues for easily accessible music for not only popular music, but also indie hits. Throw in their incorporation into popular streaming playlists like Spotify's Discover Weekly or Apple's My New Music Mix that collects all kinds of music that is introduces to listeners, and you can understand why indie music is so much more accessible now.

The music business isn't what it once was, but the new world of streaming platforms has opened the door for all type of music to become popular.