As the grip of the major music labels continued to loosen in the era of Pandora, Rdio and Spotify, one of the biggest indie stars, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, saw its hit song “Thrift Shop” hit No. 1 in 2013, the first time since 1994 that a song without the backing of a major label reached the top of the charts.
The song, released in August 2012, was also the No. 2 streamed video in the first half of 2013, with 187 million streams.
The rise of streaming music services, where the major labels’ control is weaker, and the decline of FM radio, where the labels’ control is powerful, has had a clear effect on the power of indie.
Rich Bengloff, who runs the American Association of Independent Music, believes the availability and popularity of music streaming — which grew by 24 percent in the first half of 2013, while digital sales slipped 4.6 percent in the period, its first-ever decline — is exactly why artists are opting for indie status and why their power is growing.
Not surprisingly, Pandora founder Tim Westergren has been wooing the independents. Songs from outside the major labels make up 50 percent of the content streamed on the 14-year-old service. On broadcast radio, it’s 13 percent.
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