As of 2018, the nonprofit independent music association represents the interests of around 600 and growing independent music labels.
Being independent doesn’t necessarily mean being unknown; some of the organization’s member labels feature music from superstar artists of the stature of Taylor Swift. Recently, Burgess was featured in a Billboard story about the people behind their list of “2018 Indie Power Players” (a lineup that featured many A2IM members).
Burgess describes A2IM’s diverse membership of independent labels as ones that must own or control 50 percent or more of its masters.
Although three powerful record labels are sometimes perceived to dominate the recorded music scene, in recent years, a different kind of music-maker has been gaining market share.
Independent artists and labels, full of creativity that refuse to bow down to industry powers-that-be, are finding innovative ways of marketing their music to fans, making waves in the media, and getting fair pay for their work even as digital media and streaming have made that process increasingly complex.
These changes are powered by organizations like A2IM, with its laser-sharp focus on education, advocacy, and networking in the independent recorded-music community. A2IM’s mission is to take independent music past the gatekeepers that can prevent artists from getting fair media representation and payment for use of their music.
To see the results of A2IM’s efforts, Burgess points to the numbers.
In 2005, the year that A2IM was founded, independent music labels owned 29 percent of the overall market. Fast-forward to today and according to a 2017 report by MIDiA Research the independent market share has jumped to 37 percent.
Every June, at its Indie Week conference and Libera Awards show, A2IM has the opportunity to celebrate these gains and recognize the hard work of the artists, allies, and visionaries who lift the independent music community up.
Indie Week’s workshops and panels feature powerhouse leaders from independent labels and the organizations that collaborate with them. Indie Week follows through on the organization’s goal of offering networking opportunities and state of the art education.
The Libera Awards show provides a platform for the independent music community to celebrate, honor, and showcase its successes.
With all the progress that’s been made, A2IM’s work continues in a music industry that’s fast-paced and ever-evolving. “While we’re pleased to see the independent music sector growing by leaps and bounds, there’s still much work to be done if we want a music industry that’s equitable for all,” says Burgess. “From working with individual labels, collaborating with our associate members, and through our government advocacy efforts, A2IM continues to drive forward that change.”