How well do you know the independent music sector? IMPALA’s discovery series takes us on a journey of the independent sector across the whole of Europe. Each month we look at a different aspect of the sector from labels, managers, venues and much more.

20ThingsToKnow takes a closer look at the independent sector from top to bottom.  20 managers to meet, 20 icons, 20 newcomers and more. Check in here every month to meet them all.



A huge part of IMPALA membership, national associations of independent record labels form our backbone. These structures, gathering the independent record labels active in a specific country or territory, work on a daily basis to facilitate the business of their members and monitor national developments likely to impact the music sector. Together within IMPALA, their knowledge and understanding of the music eco-system is second to none, allowing a permanent exchange of knowledge between territories, record labels and music executives all over Europe. 

IMPALA turns 20 this year and many national associations go a long way back in time. 

The first national associations appeared in Scandinavia as early as the seventies. Swedish association SOM was the European pioneer, being established as early as 1974. Norway followed closely, with FONO being born in 1980. The other Nordic countries followed in 2002 with the set-up of DUP and INDIECO in Finland.  

While Israeli association PIL was established as early as 1988, it is the nineties that saw the independents in the bigger European music markets get organised: VUT, the German association of independents was born in 1993 and is still, to this day, the biggest European association in terms of membership size with close to 1,200 members. French association UPFI followed in 1996 and AIM, the Association of Independent Music, was constituted in 1998, gathering the British independents. The three bigger European music markets now had independent representative groups firmly on the map. 

Collaborating with a few key independent labels based in territories with no national association at the time, a crazy idea was born making sure that independent record labels could also be properly represented at the European level, where more and more decisions were taken that would have an impact on the music eco-system. IMPALA was established in 2000, with most of the above as founding members. 

The noughties would, in the space of a few years, see more associations created, at first mostly in Western European countries: UFI in Spain and VTMÖ in Austria in 2003 or PMI in Italy in 2005. BIMA (in Belgium), STOMP (Netherlands), AMAEI (Portugal) and INDIESUISSE followed suit. 

The last decade saw things getting livelier in Central and Eastern Europe. PLATFORMA (Czech republic) was the first association of its kind to be established in the region, with more indie federations recently appearing in Hungary (HAIL), Romania (INDIERO) and Poland (ANPM). The Balkans even went one step further, with RUNDA (established in 2018) becoming the very first trans-national association of independent record labels, covering the seven territories of ex-Yugoslavia as well as Albania.

Last, but certainly not least, French federation FELIN joined IMPALA in 2020, becoming the second French indie alliance to do so after UPFI. It is not uncommon for European countries to have multiple groups of independents active in the same territory, based on historical differences or different realities (music genres, size, etc). Along similar lines, Italian association AUDIOCOOP is also represented within IMPALA by PMI.   

In a nutshell: 20 territories, for 22 associations and 27 European countries covered in total.

1. AIM – Association of Independent Music (United Kingdom)

2. AMAEI – Associação de Músicos Artistas e Editoras Independentes (Portugal)

3. ANPM – Alians Niezaleznych Producentow Muzycznych (Poland)

4. BIMA – Belgian Independent Music Association (Belgium)

5. DUP – Danske Uafhaengige Pladeselskaber (Denmark)

6. FONO – Norwegian Association of Independents (Norway)

7. HAIL – Hungarian Association of Independent Labels (Hungary)

8. INDIECO – Finnish Association of Independents (Finland)

9. INDIERO – Romanian Association of independent record labels (Romania)

10. INDIESUISSE – Association of Swiss Independent Music Labels and Producers (Switzerland)

11. PIL – The Israeli Federation of Independent Record Producers (Israel)

12. PLATFORMA – Association Czech of Independents Record Companies (Czech Republic)

13. PMI – Produttori Musicali Indipendenti, also representing AUDIOCOOP (Italy) 

14. RUNDA – Regionalna Udruga Nezavisnih Diskografa (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania)

15. SOM – Svenska Oberoende Music Producenter (Sweden)

16. STOMP – Stichting Onafhankelijk Muziek Producenten (Netherlands)

17. UFI – Union Fonografica Independiente(Spain)

18. UPFI – Union des producteurs phonographiques français indépendants and FELIN – Fédération Nationale des Labels et Distributeurs Indépendants (France)

19. VTMÖ – Verband unabhängiger Tonträgerunternehmen, Musikverlage und MusikproduzentInnen Österreich (Austria)

20. VUT – Verband Unabhängiger Musikunternehmer (Germany)




1. In its first year, IMPALA plays a key role in the breakdown of the merger attempt between EMI and Warner – a deal withdrawn because of EU objections (see here) (2001)

2. IMPALA negotiates two landmark agreements with key online players – Napster, when was the world’s second most recognised brand (see here), and iTunes (see here) (2001)

3. IMPALA wins landmark court case on Sony/BMG merger clearance (see here) (2006)

4. World’s first merger remedy package negotiated with WMG to rebalance the market in the face of increasing concentration (2007) 

5. IMPALA helps create key international structures for the sector, Merlin, the global digital rights agency for the world’s independent label sector and also WIN, the worldwide network of independent associations (2007 & 2006)

6. Launch of IMPALA’s Independent Album of the Year Award (2011)

7. Biggest ever set of merger remedies secured following IMPALA’s complaint – Universal ordered to divest two thirds of EMI and respect 10 years behavioural undertakings (2012)

8. IMPALA and Merlin announce agreement with Warner Music Group on divestments to strengthen the independent sector (2013)

9. Two thirds of labels signing WIN’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration are European (2014)

10. IMPALA launches a complaint against YouTube, Merlin secures deal after platform threatens to remove independent labels’ videos (2014)

11. Very first loan EU guarantee scheme is launched for the EU’s cultural and creative sectors to support loans to independents and other small actors (2014)

12. Apple’s attempt to discriminate against independents is thwarted by a united stance in Europe and across the world, improving terms for all labels, including the majors (2015)

13. Trade takes on a new dimension with the launch of IMPALA Balkans Focus Group (leading to establishment of RUNDA) and start of IMPALA’s Brexit work to ensure that the independent music companies’ voice is heard in the negotiations (2016 & 2017 and continuing today…) 

14. Divestment process with Warner Music Group reaches completion, resulting in a strengthening of the independent sector (2017)  

15. Music Moves Europe programme is launched, first European programme dedicated to music  (2018)

16. Historic vote in the European parliament to adopt a new copyright directive to address the value gap (2019)

17. IMPALA establishes a COVID-19 Task Force and takes on key role in driving the sector’s agenda by adopting a crisis planmapping tool and recovery package, helping culture to be recognised as one of Europe’s fourteen priority sectors for recovery (2020)

18. Diversity and Inclusion Charter adopted, first set of commitments dedicated to the European independent sector (2020)

19. IMPALA launches One Step Ahead, digital intelligence facility for the independent sector (2020)

20. EU budget has focus on music for first time and whole culture programme receives top up of half a billion euros for total of 2.2bn (2020)

IMPALA – Independent Music Companies Association

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