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Virtually every town in America and Canada has at least one artist or band that puts out their own CDs. Artists with local and regional followings can sell as many as 5000 recordings a year at performances;; artists with followings in several states can sell many more recordings.
Record labels that focus on particular genres of music can have gross incomes of up to several million dollars a year. According to SoundScan, sales of indie recordings in the United States accounts for over a billion dollars annually or approximately 15% of the sales of all recorded product.
The actual income generated by sales of indie recordings may be much higher. Many indies do not bar code their recordings because they sell them at performances, by mail order to fans and on the Internet. And, SoundScan statistics do not include sales generated in many nonrecord retail stores.
If you add consumer purchases of concert tickets for indie performances and sales of promotional merchandise, it is easy to realize why independent recording is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Other benefits for indie artists and labels:
Indies Under Siege
The Internet: A New Ally
The proliferation of Web sites means that indie artists and labels must find methods for getting people to them and returning. The competition for audience share and the increasing presence and dominance of large Web sites by entertainment conglomerates does not make this an easy task for indies. Their sites can easily get lost in cyberspace.
Indie labels have spurred a music renaissance and revitalized music by enriching and widening the spectrum that is available to the public. The advantages that indies have are their decentralization, flexibility and small scales of operation. While the major label industry continues to homogenize and narrow its focus to only a few musical genres, the independent label industry has diversity, passion, vitality and creativity.
Nevertheless, new strategies must be adopted to maintain and increase the gains indies have made. By taking steps to counter the new challenges that confront them, independent bands and artists can continue to prosper.