Independent labels now have 31.2% market share on 2011 album sales, as long as you look at it through frosted glass on uppers

Independent labels now have 31.2% market share on 2011 album sales, as long as you look at it through frosted glass on uppers

Surprise! Nielsen SoundScan has dropped some figures on US album sales in the first six months of 2011, and it turns out that indie labels collectively account for 31.2% of album sales, a larger market share than any of the four major labels! I think what this means is that Kommissar Hjuler und Frau’s new album on Feeding Tube is going to out-perform Watch the Throne on Q3 SoundScan results… right?

Not exactly. This 31.2% figure is a huge jump from the last SoundScan report, and it’s because they’ve reworked the analysis after being put in a headlock by the American Association of Independent Music over how they calculate market share. Until now, indie labels that distributed their albums through groups owned by majors have had their album sales count toward that major’s share. A SoundScan report from just one month ago listed indie market share at 12.57%, so the new calculations that take into account label ownership increase the little guys’ clout considerably.

To summarize, indie album sales are way up, but over half of them are due to distribution deals with the majors. In other news, we’re all free to pursue our dreams independently, provided we do so within a toxic, alienating environment that offers agency as the seed of complacency and later reaps the reward of our ragged, strung-out souls at first dawning of the blood-red harvest moon. Have a great weekend everybody!

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