20 KEY INDEPENDENT MUSIC EXECUTIVES
Their backgrounds and experiences cover all angles of the music industry and they have all had a lasting impact on the music sector either in their country or at European level. Here, our national associations have curated a list of 20 key European independent music executives.
1. Laurence DESARZENS (Swiss Music Export – Switzerland)
Laurence has been active in the Swiss music scene for more than 30 years. The first manager of The Young Gods, one of the most successful Swiss acts ever), she was the in-house promoter at Rote Fabrik in Zurich, at Moods in Zurich then at the Kaserne in Basel. Laurence is heavily involved with new technologies (she started live streaming shows in 2000!) and has always tried to pioneer their introduction in the music sector. Since 2016, she is the director of the Haute école de musique de Lausanne (HEMU). She is the current president of the Swiss Music Export office.
2. Kenny GATES ([PIAS] Group – Belgium)
Kenny is the co-founder of [PIAS], one of the world’s leading independent music companies. Kenny met his future business partner, IMPALA board member Michel Lambot, in 1981. They teamed up to launch a music import company which became “Play It Again Sam”. The company quickly became a hugely successful record company and distributor offering a wide range of services to third party labels, including promotion and marketing. Over the intervening 35 years, [PIAS] has remained proudly independent and has grown to become an international music company offering distribution, label services, music publishing, live music nights and much more, with offices in 8 countries and hundreds of employees.
3. Inma GRASS (Altafonte – Spain)
Born in Alicante, Inma has developed her career in different fields (promotion, marketing, A&R, international development) within multinationals such as BMG, Virgin and EMI, and other indie companies such as Boa and Fol Música. She is recognized as an expert in ” World Music ” and especially latin music through her involvement with Latin American artists such as Celia Cruz, Juan Luis Guerra and Gilberto Gil. Inma is one of the founding partners of digital distribution company Altafonte, a position that has seen her listed as one of the 500 most influential women in Spain. In addition to this extensive career, Inma was also president of the association of Spanish independent labels (UFI) and founder of the association MIM (Women in Music Business).
4. Yvette GRIFFITH (Jazz Re:Freshed – United Kingdom)
Yvette is the executive director of the music arts organization Jazz Re:Freshed. In her time, Jazz Re:Freshed has pocketed various awards including Best Jazz Venue in the UK Parliamentary Jazz Awards and Best Live experience in Jazz FM awards. Yvette’s career has spanned theatre, music, film and the management of major corporate event companies and teams. Yvette also successfully ran the UK Jazz export project which has exponentially raised the profile of UK Jazz Internationally and, in turn, back in the UK with increased performance opportunities for artists. In addition to this, Yvette has extensive experience leading teams at Young Vic Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Almeida Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East and she worked with a whole host of individuals and small companies to support, shape and drive their business and artistic aims forward.
5. Birgit HEUZEROTH (Beggars Group – Germany)
Birgit Heuzeroth is the general manager of Beggars Group Germany, based in Hamburg. Beggars Group is one of the largest independent label groups, and is the home of 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, XL Recordings and Young Turks. In her role, Birgit plans and oversees campaigns in Germany and Austria for a range of artists including Adele, The xx, Queens of the Stone Age and Kamasi Washington. Prior to joining Beggars Group, she worked as a promotion manager and music journalist.
6. Teemu LAITINEN (PME Records – Finland)
Teemu’s route to the music industry has been anything but traditional. He holds a master’s degree in engineering from the Helsinki University of Technology. After graduating, he ended up as a management consultant for five years. His first contact with the music industry came in 2013, when Teemu was offered a stake and a seat on PME’s board of directors. The current shareholders – who are also some of his childhood friends – needed help with matters related to the company’s strategy and financing. Teemu jumped into the bread of the music company as CEO in 2017, quickly strengthening PME Records’ status as market leader in Finland.
7. Céline LEPAGE (FELIN – France)
Céline is the general delegate of FELIN (Fédération des Labels et Distributeurs Indépendants), a French national association gathering more than 500 independent labels and producers and showcasing their essential role for musical diversity.
Céline is also involved in the work of Paris-based record label Born Bad Europe and worked with other influential French independent record labels such as Tricatel and Cracki Records in the past.
8. Laura LITTAUER (Sundance – Denmark)
Laura has been the co-owner and director of Scandinavian music company Sundance since 2008. The company is active on both recording and publishing. Laura is also a board member of IFPI Denmark and sits on the board of the music companies’ management organisation MPO. She was elected on the Gramex’s Board of Directors in 2016, representing music producers.
9. Relja MILANKOVIĆ (Bassivity – Serbia)
Relja is a Serbian artist and music producer. He is the co-founder of the first and largest hip hop label in the Balkan region: Bassivity Music. He is also CEO of the later formed Bassivity Digital and Bassivity Music record label, co-founder and CEO of Loudpack Zone radio, CEO of the marketing agency Soulflower and owner of the and first hype streetwear shop in the region: Minus1 store. Relja worked as head of A&R for the Warner Music licensee in Serbia and he also runs the Bassivity Studio 7 in Belgrade.
10. Catalin MURARU (Roton – Romania)
Catalin was one of the first A&Rs in the Romanian music industry. He also co-founded Roton, more than 25 years ago and played a vital role in Roton’s transition from a small distribution company to one of the biggest labels in Romania. Catalin’s work was instrumental in the national and international success of artists such as Inna, Akcent, Simplu, Morandi, Antonia, Fly Project, Manuel Riva, Mihail and Corina among others.
11. Michal NOVÁK (RedHead music – Czech Republic)
Michal Novák, aka Majkláč is a musician, renowned for his crossover band The.Switch. In 2004 he launched Bandzone.cz, the largest Czechoslovak database of bands and performers. A partner of the smsticket.cz project since 2012 and always pro-active, Michal launched RedHead Music in 2015. The company actively seeks out and supports new musical talents, providing them with various services such as management quality rehearsal rooms, transport, etc. Michal also runs a music academy and is one of the most established talent scouts in the region.
12. Noemí PLANAS (WIN – International)
Noemí is in charge of network development at WIN, the Worldwide Independent Network. She was a board member of IMPALA for eight years and a founder member of the Spanish Independent Phonographic Union (UFI), where she was the executive manager until 2019. Previously she worked on a record label (Acuarela Discos), coordinated several editions of a music festival, did booking and tour management, and founded her own music publishing company.
13. Péter PODLOVICS (XLNT Records – Hungary)
Peter has more than 25 years of experience in the music sector, including booking, and artists’ management. He also promoted more than 100 acts as diverse as Deep Purple, Los Lobos and Barbara Hendricks. His company, XLNT, is active both as a record label focusing on quality songwriters and as a booking agency.
14. Patrick SEBAG (Israel)
Patrick is a leading music director and producer, who has worked with some of the biggest names in Israeli music. In recent years, he has been focusing on his own music, and has been releasing songs which he wrote and produced, with vocals by some of the country’s leading artists. His combination of electronic and acoustic elements, with a strong sense of melody has led to him producing some of the best-selling albums in Israel in recent years.
15. Jonas SJÖSTRÖM (Playground Music Scandinavia – Sweden)
Jonas is the Swedish owner and CEO of Playground Music Scandinavia AB, the largest independent music group in Scandinavia and Finland. Previously he was Managing Director of MNW Records Group, CEO of HNH (Naxos International) Hong Kong and external consultant for German record label Edel. Jonas was one of the founders of IMPALA. He has served on the IMPALA board since 2000 and was IMPALA’s President from 2014 to 2017. He has been Chairman of SOM (the Swedish Independent Record Producers Association) for 25 years until 2011. Jonas is also the chairman of SLR, the Swedish Label Rights Association and a Board Member of IFPI Sweden.
16. Rui TORRINHA (Centro Cultural Vila Flor – Portugal)
Rui is the artistic director of Centro Cultural Vila Flor (CCVF) in Guimarães. He also directs EU projects and international networks, the coproduction scheme and the artistic residencies plan taking place at Centro de Criação de Candoso (CCC). He is the festival director of GUIdance, Westway Lab (a partner of the IMPALA Campus project) and the Circus Arts Weekend, covering different arts such as contemporary dance, music, theatre and contemporary circus plus CCVF’s intense regular programming throughout the entire year. He was part of the programming team at Guimarães 2012, European Capital of Culture and one of the co-founders of AMAEI, the Portuguese association of independent record labels.
17. Francesca TRAININI (peermusic – Italy)
Francesca spent the formative years of her career in London, where she worked for Virgin Publishing, coming into contact with incredible music, great writers and artists, innovative management styles and ideas in music business. Francesca set up and ran independent label and publisher Oyez of which she continues to be a senior partner and, since 2014, is managing director of Peermusic Italy and Peer Southern Productions.
Francesca is vice president of independent label association PMI Italia and vice president of Italian MPA FEM. She is also the chair of the IMPALA board, is a member of the WIN Board and a founding member of the Independent Music Publishers Forum.
18. Hannes TSCHÜRTZ (Ink Music – Austria)
Hannes is the CEO of music agency INK Music, home of this year’s IMPALA European independent album of the year winner My Ugly Clementine. A former journalist, Hannes also teaches music business at the University of Applied Sciences in Kufstein (Austria), holds lectures at several other institutes, runs music business seminars since 2006 and is a well-booked speaker for several music business events (Eurosonic, Spot on Denmark, etc.). He is a former member of the board of VTMÖ – the Austrian Independent Labels Association and one of the founding members of Austrian Music Ambassador Network. He is also currently serving as member of the Austrian Music Export’s advisory board.
19. Nadine VAN BODEGRAVEN (Armada Music – Netherlands)
Nadine began her career at TV company EndeMol Netherlands and as a music and entertainment lawyer for one of the leading Dutch IP law firms. She then joined Amsterdam-based record label Armada Music to serve as its Head of Legal & Business Affairs. In 2014, Nadine became General Manager of the company and has since been one of the most globally renowned Dutch record label executives.
20. Marek WŁODARCZYK (Independent Digital – Poland)
Marek is the co-founder of Independent Digital, the leading digital distribution, digital marketing and digital rights’ management services in Poland. You may recognise his voice from various movies and adverts in which he was active in voiceover or dubbing. It is also this activity that led him to meet Andrzej Dabrowksi, his partner in Independent Digital. Based in Warsaw, the company has been growing steadily since its launch and nowadays represents the interests of hundreds of Polish independent artists. Independent Digital was also one of the driving forces behind ANPM, the Polish association of independent records labels, established in 2019.
20 YOUNG EUROPEAN INDEPENDENT LABELS
Meet the new kids on the block in the independent world – young record labels that were launched over the last few years and are already making a name for themselves, having gatecrashed the music market with some very promising releases. Here, our national associations have curated a list of 20 young European record labels that you may not be familiar with….yet! Here you can listen to a playlist of the most streamed song of each artist.
BLAUBLAU – BlauBlau Records is a Switzerland based label, artist collective and booking bureau. It focuses on exigent underground pop music of any style. Working in true DIY spirit, it presents itself as “Bold records for bold people, reckless concerts for the reckless”.
BUDABEATS – Budabeats Records is Hungarian independent record label founded by DJ Gandharva and his long time DJ and record collector partner, Von Yodi. The label started as a netlabel releasing downtempo, electronic, hip-hop and funk releases by the likes of Dokkerman & The Turkeying Fellaz, Umoja or Suhov. In 2015, it started focusing on releasing music on vinyl, and in the last couple of years the label put out several singles and albums on a wide musical spectrum ranging from afrobeat, through fusion electronics to obscure jazz.
3. CYPRES RECORDS
CYPRES RECORDS – Cypres Records is a Belgian record label based in Brussels. It started by releasing contemporary music and jazz, before expanding into ancient music, classical music and more and has established itself as one of the go-to sources of quality music in Belgium and beyond.
4. GLITCH RECORDS
GLITCH RECORDS – Glitch is an independent music label and concert agency based in Belgrade, Serbia. Focusing on indie rock, Glitch soon made its mark on the regional scene thanks to its first releases.
GMI – Based in Tbilissi, Georgia, GMI is not only a record label but also the leading music publisher in the country, managing more than 5000 recordings and compositions by 100+ artists. GMI is the first IMPALA member from Georgia.
A few artists to watch out for: Nato Gelashvili, Nana Belkania, Killages
6. HYPSTERIA RECORDS
HYPSTERIA RECORDS – Hypsteria is a Polish record label established in 2019 by a group of music and fashion enthusiasts. It produces various styles of music, focusing on underground Polish alternative and hip-hop music. Hypsteria manages the careers of young and talented artists and advises them on how to follow their career path. It introduces itself as “an artistic association open to everyone who has an artistic soul, thinks in an unorthodox way and wants to realise himself/herself“.
7. I LOVE YOU RECORDS
I LOVE YOU RECORDS – I Love You Records is an independent record label based in Riga, Latvia. The label works with singers-songwriters, indie folk, indie pop and experimental rock artists from Baltic countries and Scandinavia. I Love You began in December 2003 as a small bar and venue in Old Town Riga. Over the years Bar I Love You has hosted live performances of dozens of artists and bands from the Baltics and other European countries.
InFiné – InFiné is a French record label directed by Alexandre Cazac and Yannick Matray. Coming from electronic music, the label usually goes off the beaten path, from classical music to ambient, through club and pop music. The label’s approach is transversal and multidisciplinary. InFiné intends to promote meetings between styles and generations, but also between disciplines. It uses electronic music as a vehicle for promoting uncharted musical territories where heritage and avant-garde are mixed.
9. JANSEN RECORDS
JANSEN RECORDS – Created in Oslo by Erik Jansen, Jansen Records (formerly known as Jansen Plateproduksjon) produces rock, pop, psych, garage artists and singer-songwriters from the local scene. Jansen Records showcases local talent, working with Death by Unga Bunga, Electric Eye, Atlanter, Hanne Kolstø, Kråkesølv, Daniel Kvammen, Bror Forsgren, Undergrünnen, Band of Gold, Los Plantronics and many more.
10. MANSIONS & MILLIONS
MANSIONS & MILLIONS – Mansions and Millions is an independent pop record label and PR agency based in Berlin-Neuköln which works with artists such as DENA, Better Person and more…
A winner of VUT’s VIA award, it is, in its own words, “a label that you will like!”
12. MONT VENTOUX
MONT VENTOUX – Mont Ventoux is a record label, publishing house, management & booking agency and book publishers established in Madrid in early 2017. In its own words, it focuses on talent, women’s talent and people who wants to share their art and own truth.
13. OH LEE MUSIC
OH LEE MUSIC – Oh Lee Music emerged as an artist collective in 2016 with a simple purpose: to provide a label for DIY records. Since then, it has been also pushing forward the independent music scene with concerts, networking events, workshops and talks. The label’s headquarter is divided between Norwich (UK) and Porto (Portugal). The label focuses on one ethos – working towards the artists and with its customers in mind.
An artist to watch out for: We Bless This Mess
14. POLARFACE MUSIC GROUP
POLARFACE MUSIC GROUP – Established in 2016. Polarface Records is an independent record label sprouting from Manchester and London, Polarface operates across a wide range of genres and releases music that we love, that promotes positivity in all aspects. Its motto? “As a family, we shall be creating events for acts we love and believe in”.
15. RAMA LAMA RECORDS
RAMA LAMA RECORDS – Rama Lama Records is a Stockholm-based label founded in 2016. It was launched within the aquarium company of one of the two founders’ father. Aftet two initial successful releases and a couple of sold out parties, the label moved into its own office leaving the basement it shared with countless guppies and goldfishes. Since then, it has continued to release music. The label is also behind the independent label festival and market Fools Gold, read more here.
16. SEEK MUSIC
SEEK MUSIC – Seek Music is a Romanian trap/hip hop label, responsible for giving a voice to the younger generation. The trap genre exploded in Romania mainly with the help of Seek Music’s Satra B.E.N.Z. and since then, growing young talents and transforming them into national superstars is the label’s main goal. Being the biggest urban label from Romania, Seek Music became a national household name for the hip-hop fans across the country. Under Seek Music’s guidance, artists of the likes of BRUJA, Amuly and NOSFE are making a big mark in the hip-hop culture, demonstrating with every release that they are here to stay.
17. SILVERTREE RECORDS
SILVERTREE RECORDS – Silvertree Records is an Austrian record label founded in 2019 in Vienna by Anne Eck. It is an #allfemale record label, aiming to strengthen the visibility and equality of female artists to the outside world. Its work includes all administrative label activities, consulting, brand building and positioning of the artists, worldwide sales as well as PT and marketing in order to support it artist in their own artistic careers.
SOLITI – Soliti was created in 2011 by Nick Triani. The Helsinki-based one-man music company proactively releases experimental music, indie, shoegaze, electronica, singer songwriter, psych, drone and slacker.
19. W.A.S. Entertainment
W.A.S. Entertainment – W.A.S. Music is a Danish record label describing itself as built on tolerance, a sense of community and inclusion. It aims to hand the microphone to minorities and help them tell their stories. The label’s core values resonate through the artists signed with it.
20. WISE MUSIC
WISE MUSIC – WISE Music is a Czech management, PR and booking agency, as well as a record label. The company, with already 15 releases under its belt, was established by Tomas Lacina and Ondrek Kuchar.
ICONIC EUROPEAN INDEPENDENT ARTISTS
Curated by IMPALA’s national association members from across Europe, we look at 20 European independent artists who have made a historic mark on the independent music scene in their own country and beyond. Here you can listen to a playlist of the most streamed song of each artist.
Adele (complete name Adele Laurie Blue Adkins MBE) is an English singer and songwriter. After graduating from the BRIT 2006, Adele signed a record deal with XL Recordings. Her debut album was released in 2008 and proved a huge success, seeing her, among others pocket two Grammy awards. Her second album – and 2012 IMPALA European independent album of the year award, 21, proved even more successful and is currently the best-selling independent album of the 21st century, selling more than 31 million copies. Her ongoing success, her countless awards and participation in some original soundtracks such as James Bond – Skyfall has made her one of the most visible artists worldwide, leading to total sales of 120+ million albums.
Recommended album: 21 (XL Recordings)
2. ANDREA BOCELLI
Andrea Bocelli, born in 1958, is an Italian opera tenor and multi-instrumentalist. He was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma at the age of 5 months and became completely blind aged 12. After performing evenings in piano bars and competing in local singing contests, Bocelli signed his first recording contract with Sugar Music. He rose to fame in 1994, winning the preliminary round of the San Remo music festival. Since 1982, Bocelli has recorded 15 solo studio albums of both pop and classical music, three greatest hits albums, and nine complete operas, selling over 75 million records worldwide. He has had success as a crossover performer, bringing classical music to the top of international pop charts. His 2019 album Si debuted at number one in both the European and U.S. album charts. His song Con Te Partiro is one of the best-selling singles of all time.
Recommended album: Si (Sugar Music)
3. ANE BRUN
Ane Brun (true name: Ane Brunvoll is a Norwegian songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist of Sami origin. Since 2003, she has recorded ten albums, eight of which are studio albums of original material (including a collection of duets), an acoustic album, and a covers’ album. She has been living in Sweden since 2001, where she writes, records, and runs her own label: Balloon Ranger Recordings. She has been nominated twice for IMPALA’s European independent album of the year award.
Recommended album: After the Great Storm/How Beauty Holds the Hand of Sorrow (Balloon Ranger Recordings)
4. DANNY VERA
Danny Vera (true name Danny Polfliet) is a Dutch singer-songwriter and musician. He started his first band Till Dawn in 1999, winning the “Zeeuwse Belofte” award. He released his first solo album For the Light in Your Eyes in 2003. His song “Roller Coaster” from his seventh album Pressure Makes Diamonds Part II went on to rank first in the annual Dutch Top 2000.
Recommended album: The New Now (Excelsior Recordings)
5. DAVE LINDHOLM
Ralf-Henrik – “Dave” – Lindholm a Finnish singer-songwriter who has made a career under his own name and also participated in various bands. He has written songs and recorded in both Finnish and English. Lindholm’s first recordings were made with his band Ferris that released its only record in 1971. Lindholm wanted to record as a solo artist. His record label persuaded him to use the name “Isokynä” (“big pen”) and to sing in Finnish or Swedish instead of English. He recorded two albums in Finnish in 1972 and 1973. His second LP, Sirkus, is considered to be one of the most important Finnish rock albums. Lindholm has kept on recording and performing his music throughout the years and his works are highly respected by Finnish popular music critics and rock/pop music lovers.
Recommended album: Sissi (Rockadillo Records)
6. EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN
Einstürzende Neubauten (literally meaning “Collapsing New Buildings” – with Neubauten a general term referring to buildings constructed in Germany after 1945) is a German experimental music group formed in Berlin in the early 80s. One of their trademarks is the use of custom-built instruments and noises. Subsequent recordings found the group’s sound growing somewhat more conventional, yet still containing many unorthodox elements. The band’s name attracted unexpected attention when on 21 May 1980, the roof of the Berlin Congress Hall collapsed, killing one person and injuring many. The band is considered a household name of European industrial music and its logo is among the most recognisable ones in the music sector.
Recommended album: Tabula Rasa (Mute)
7. FRONT 242
Front 242 is a Belgian electronic music band that came into prominence during the early ‘80s, pioneering a style now widely recognised as electro body music. They are considered a major influence on electronic and industrial music and were name among the “Top 500 Best Producers in Rock History” by Billboard. The band is renowned for its live performances and its aggressive stage presence and has seen its music featured in various films and commercials.
Recommended album: Tyranny for You (Red Rhino / PIAS Recordings)
8. ISHAY RIBO
Ishay Ribo is one of the bestselling Israeli artists of the last decade. He was born to an orthodox Jewish family in France, studied in Yeshiva and enlisted in the Israeli army – and began releasing his music soon after his release from the army. Ribo, whose 4th studio album was released in 2020, despite him being only 30 years old has been consistently selling out venues and became one of the top selling and top radio artists in Israel.
Recommended album: Shetach Afor (PIL Ltd)
9. KENY ARKANA
Keny Arkana is an Argentine-French rapper, also active in alter-globalisation and civil disobedience movements, initiating the “La rage du people / La rabia del pueblo” movement in 2004 in Marseille. Arkana began writing songs at the age of 12, and began rapping publicly about two years later, quickly becoming known for her realistic approach as a lyricist. She released her first solo EP in 2004 and her debut album in 2006, with a lead single, La rage, detailing the 2005 civil unrest in France. She also launched a series of local social fora through the association Appel aux sans voix (“Call to the voiceless”).
Recommended album: Entre ciment et belle étoile (Because Music)
10. KIKO VENENO
Kiko Veneno is a Spanish artist. He grew up in Cadiz before settling down in Seville. He got his nickname, Kiko, while studying at university. Heavily influenced by artists such as Frank Zappa and Bob Dylan, he formed the group Veneno in 1975. Their first album, Veneno, although not a great hit at the time, is now considered a classic Spanish album. Success came in the early nineties, with a couple of albums, including Échate un cantecito, released by Ariola. He left the major in 2005 and has been releasing his music through his own label since then. His album Sombrero Roto has been nominated for IMPALA’s European Independent Album of the Year Award in 2019.
Recommended album: Sombrero Roto (Elemusica)
11. KRUDER & DORFMEISTER
Kruder & Dorfmeister is an Austrian duo named after its members: Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister. They are known for their trip hop / downtempo remixes of pop, hip hop and drum and bass tracks. Their first EP, G-Stoned, was released in 1993 to critical acclaim, especially in the United Kingdom. The band has released multiple albums, singles and remixes through its own G-Stone Recordings label – pocketing a handful of IMPALA sales awards in the process – and their K&D Sessions Live show became hugely successful, leading to a world tour.
Recommended album: DJ Kicks EP (!K7 Recordings)
Laibach is a Slovenian avant-garde music band associated with the industrial and martial genres. Its name is the German historical name for Ljubljana. Formed in Trbovlje (by then still in Yugoslavia), Laibach represents the musical wing of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) collective. From its beginnings, the band was subject to controversies and bans due to their elaborate use of iconography with ambiguously references to totalitarianism, nationalism and militarism, a concept they have preserved throughout their career. Early Laibach albums were pure industrial music with heavy rhythms and roaring vocals, but they also recorded several cover versions of popular songs, often turning light melodies into sinister-sounding gothic tunes. Laibach has also recorded film soundtracks, theatre music, produced works of visual art, and its band members have embarked on a number of side projects.
Recommended album: Opus Dei (Mute)
13. LOCOMOTIV GT (LGT)
Locomotiv GT (often abbreviated LGT, and sometimes using the nickname Loksi) was a Hungarian rock band formed in the early 70s. Starting out as a prog rock band, they later experimented with many other styles including jazz and funk. During their heyday, they were one of Hungary’s most popular rock bands. The band broke up in 2016 after the death of its singer/bassist Tamas Somlo.
Recommended album: Locomotiv GT (Supraphon)
14. SAVAGE ROSE
Savage Rose is a Danish band formed in 1967 by Thomas Koppel, Anders Koppel, Alex Riel and Jens Rugsted. Building its reputation on acoustic music, the group returned to electric instrumentation in the 90s. The band’s debut album, The Savage Rose, was chosen as part of the Danish culture canon in 2006. The band celebrated its 50(!) years of career with a new album and an extensive tour.
Recommended album: Homeless (Target)
15. SILVANA IMAM
Silvana Imam is a Swedish rapper born in Lithuania, known for her political songs about racism, homophobia and the rise of far right. In 2012, she was nominated for Newcomer of the Year at Kingsizegalan, and in May 2013, she released her debut album called Rekviem. In May 2014, she released the EP När du ser mig • Se dig, and, after that went on her Jag ser dig tour in Sweden during the summer of 2014. Imam has described herself in her lyrics as the Vincent Van Gogh and the Quentin Tarantino of rap. She has collected numerous awards in Sweden.
Recommended album: Rekviem (Playground Music Scandinavia)
TEDE, true name Jacek Graniecki, also known as DJ Buhh is a Polish rapper. He has been operating under various nicknames, including Tas De Fleia, TDF, Tedzik, Tedunio and Chory Pastor. He began his career in the band 1 kHz (Ein Killa Hertz). He founded his own record label – Wielkie Joł (Great Yo) in 2002 and is considered one of the most established rap artists in Poland.
Recommended album: Skrrrt (Wielkie Jol)
17. THE GIFT
The Gift is a Portuguese alternative rock and synthpop band, originating from Alcobaça. In 2005, they became the very first Portuguese act to enter the Billboard charts, with their hit single “Driving You Slow”. Nowadays, manly thanks to their applauded song writing skills, they are one of the most established Portuguese acts and have toured extensively across Europe.
Recommended album: Primavera (La Folie Records)
18. THE YOUNG GODS
The Young Gods are a Swiss post-industrial band from Geneva, formed in 1985. They were nominated for last year’s IMPALA Album of the Year award. For most of its history, the band maintained a trio format with a singer, a sampler player and a drummer, albeit with multiple line-up changes. The band’s music is largely based on sampling and sound manipulation, such as distorted guitar riffs and string sections. Their approach to music has been recognised as an influence by artists such as David Bowie and Mike Patton.
Recommended album: Data Mirage Tangram (Two Gentlemen)
19. TOMAS KLUS
Tomáš Klus is a Czech musician and songwriter from the Moravian-Silesian region of the Czech Republic. Klus was born in the industrial town of Trinec, where he spent most of his childhood. He moved to Prague aged 15 to pursue a sporting career and was a member of the gold medal winning team in modern pentathlon in the 2002 European championship, turning his interest to music straight after. He released his debut album in 2008 and in 2011 released a song called “Pánu bohu do oken” (“Into God’s windows”) a song critical of Czech politics and the behaviour of Czech politicians. it was certified Gold in its first week on sale. Racek spent 23 non-consecutive weeks at number one. It was the best-selling album of 2011 in the Czech Republic and later certified diamond.
Recommended album: Tomas Klus + Janacek Philarmonic Orchestra – Klusymfonie (Supraphon)
20. VAMA (formerly VAMA VECHE)
Vama Veche is a Romanian rock band formed in 1996. Its name means “the old customs” in Romanian and is also the name of a small Romanian village. Their first album Nu am chef azi proved an instant hit in Romania. The band split in 2006 following a dispute between its members on the payment of rights. The band, led by its original singer, returned later under the name VAMA, singing in English.
Recommended album: Nu am chef azi (Tempo Music)
ICONIC EUROPEAN INDEPENDENT LABELS (20+)
They are household names of the independent music world and have released some of the most important European independent records in history. Here, we look at 20 iconic European independent record labels that have been in existence for more than 20 years.
1. COBALT MUSIC HELLADISC (Greece)
Established in 1962 and headquartered in Athens, COBALT MUSIC is Greece’ leading independent record label. representing an impressive portfolio of Greek artists. The company also explore other music genres through its imprint as FAMILY THE LABE.COBALT MUSIC is also active as a publisher, managing a very large repertoire of works of household names of Greek music such Manos Hatzidakis or Lefteris Papadopoulos. A perfect mix between respectable tradition and enthusiasm for young and emergent artists.
A few artists to watch out for: STELIOS KAZANTZIDIS, GEORGE MAZONAKIS, SAKIS ROUVA
2. CRUNCHY FROG (Denmark)
Established in 1994 in Copenhagen by the four members of the band THAU, Crunchy Frog borrows its name from a Monthy Python sketch involving a pair of policemen who question the head of a confectioners about his new assortment, which include a “Crunchy Frog”. The record label focuses on “alternative music” and aims at leaving full creative control to its artists. Nowadays, it is also involved in publishing (Crunchy Tunes) and promotion (Bobkat Agency) while also partnering in two Copenhagen-based bars: the Whammy Bar and the Mudhoney.
A few artists to watch out for: POWERSOLO, THEE ATTACKS, THE RAVEONETTES
3. DANCING BEAR (Croatia)
Based in Zagreb and founded in 1990, Dancing Bear Records is one of the leading Croatian record labels and is also the Warner Chapell representative in the country. Taking its name from a 60s hit by U.S. act The Mamas and the Papas, it is also active in publishing and runs two records stores in Zagreb and Osijek.
A few artists to watch out for: former IMPALA album of the year nominee BAMBI MOLESTERS, THE STRANGE, MAGNETIC
ECM is a record label best known for its jazz releases. It was founded in 1969 in Munich and its motto is “the Most Beautiful Sound Next to Silence”, taken from a 1971 review of ECM releases in a Canadian jazz magazine. Having built a strong reputation for daring and innovative releases, its album covers were profiled in two books: Sleeves of Desire and Windfall Light, both published by Lars Müller. ECM is the recipient of numerous industry awards (MIDEM, JazzWeek, etc) and has also developed a very strong relationship with the film industry, many of its releases being used or created for movies.
A few artists to watch out for: KEITH JARRETT, JAN GARBAREK, STEVE REICH, PAT METHENY
5. EXCELSIOR RECORDINGS (Netherlands)
Excelsior was founded in 1995 by Ferry Roseboom and Frans Hagenaars under the name “Nothing Sucks Like Electrolux”, releasing a few limited-run 7’ singles. The name Excelsior Recordings was adopted in 1996 and quickly became known for releasing quality alternative rock albums in Benelux.
A few artists to watch out for: ALAMO RACE TRACK, TOMMIGUN, TRIGGERFINGER
6. IRASCIBLE (Switzerland)
Turning 20 this year, Irascible was established in 2001 and quickly developed into a distribution, promotion and publishing company for many international and Swiss labels and artists. It is also active as a PR agency for music festivals and of course as a record label (IRASCIBLE RECORDS) aiming to build up Swiss talents and export them successfully.
A few artists to watch out for: ONE SENTENCE. SUPERVISOR, BLIND BUTCHER, WOLFMAN
7. MAGNEOTON (Hungary)
The Magneoton record label was founded in 1990 and was one of the first privately-owned record labels created during the regime change from communism to free market economy in Hungary. In 1992, Warner Music Group acquired the company, which became Warner Music’s sub-publisher of Hungarian so-called “light music” performers. The company launched the Aquarium Studio in 1999, one of the most modern sound studios in Hungary. In 2004, two directors of Warner Music Hungary, László Pásztor and István Joós, started a new business called mTon, which took over the maintenance of Magneoton’s catalogue and the release of other Hungarian albums. Elephant House Records was launched in 2014 to focus on works by electronic music performers.
A few artists to watch out for: NAPOLEON BOULEVARD, CALIDORA, NEOTON FAMILIA
8. MTJ (Poland)
Agencja Artystyczna MTJ is a Warsaw-based independent label established in 1990 by Tomasz Bujak and Maciej Pluciński. First operating in distribution and as a warehouse store, it properly launched its label operation in 1995 after signing a recording deal with singer Ryszard Rynkowski. MTJ has released more than 1.500 records in its existence, in various music genres, collecting many platinum and gold records in Poland in the process. It also runs diverse imprints focusing on rock and heavy metal (Mega Czad), electronic music (Disco Polo) and children’s music (Male MTJ).
A few artists to watch out for: MAGDA UMER, STAN BORYS, MAGDA FEMME
9. NINJA TUNE (United Kingdom)
Ninja Tune is a London-based independent record label. Their ninja logo is probably one of the most well-known in the industry. It was established in 1990 by Matt Black and artist Jonathan Moore aka Coldcut. The label was created as a means to escape the creative control of major labels and as a way to release underground music. Recognised as one of the most innovative independent record labels worldwide, Ninja Tune is often referenced to as visionary and consistently excellent. Ninja Tune MD Peter Quicke, is also one of the driving forces behind the Music Declares Emergency initiative.
A few artists to watch out for: DJ FOOD, MR. SCRUFF, AMON TOBIN
10. PIAS RECORDINGS (Belgium)
PIAS Recordings was founded in 1983 in Belgium as Play It Again Sam by Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot, focusing first on importing and distributing foreign records in Belgium, before quickly expanding into other territories, with offices in France, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom among others. Its name is a reference to the Casablanca movie with Humphry Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Nowadays, [PIAS] has grown into one of Belgium’s largest and most dynamic music companies with a team of 40 people now based at the iconic building of the former socialist newspaper Le Peuple in the heart of Brussels. The [PIAS] office in Brussels serves both as the administrative HQ of the [PIAS] Group and as the home of [PIAS] Belgium, the longest established team in the [PIAS] family of labels.
A few artists to watch out for: FRONT 242, IMPALA album of the year award winner AGNES OBEL, BLANCHE
11. PREISER RECORDS (Austria)
Preiser Records is a Vienna-based company that combines the labels PREISER RECORDS, PREISER Classics and Lebendige Vergangenheit/Legendary Voices, PREISER Jazz and EXTRAPLATTE. Together with its own distribution arm, PREISER is one of the leading independent record companies in Austria. Established in 1952 by Otto Preiser, the label promotes high-quality recordings in the areas of classical music, cabaret and Wienerlied (Viennese song). With several hundred releases, the PREISER catalogue is considered to be one of the most prestigious and authoritative sources of documentation on the leading singers and musicians of the past 100 years.
A few artists to watch out for: ELISABETH KULMAN, SEILER UND SPEER, THE WIENER TSCHUSENKAPELLE
12. RASTILHO RECORDS (Portugal)
Rastilho Records is one of Portugal’s historic record labels. Established in May 1999 by Pedro Vindeirinho and headquartered in Leiria, its first release was “Walls of Shame ” by Intervenzione, a classic Portuguese punk band of Portuguese Punk 90s . With strong DIY ethics. In June 2010, the label launched Rastilho Metal Records, an imprint dedicated exclusively to metal and hardcore releases. Rastilho Records has become known in recent years for their vinyl editions of some of the biggest names in the Portuguese music.
A few artists to watch out for: MARVEL LIMA, BIZARRA LOCOMOTIVA, MATA-RATOS
13. ROCKADILLO RECORDS (Finland)
Rockadillo Records is a Finnish record company driven by IMPALA board member Tapio Korjus. It started its activities in 1971 as a concert agency named Suomi-Pop. The name of the company was changed to Rockadillo three years later, inspired by the song of the same name by Dave Lindholm. The company grew to become one of the most respected indie names in the region.
A few artists to watch out for: DAVE LINDHOLM, NURIA, PIIRPAUKE
14. ROTON (Romania)
ROTON is one of the most successful Romanian indie labels in existence. It celebrated its 25 years of existence in 2019. Roton is home to some of the most acclaimed Romanian artists: INNA, Akcent, Mihail, Sistem etc. and is also the Romanian representative of world-renowned acts such as Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Bob Sinclair, Lost Frequencies and Fedde Le Grand among others.
A few artists to watch out for: INNA, SOFIA VICOVEANCA, AKCENT
15. RUNE GRAMMOFON (Norway)
Founded in 1998 by Rune Kristofferson, Rune Grammofon specializes in experimental electronic music, jazz and improvised music released by Norwegian artists. The label is home to the widely respected improvisational group SUPERSILENT and also releases the solo works of the band’s members.
A few artists to watch out for: SHINING, ALOG, SKYPHONE
16. STARTRACKS (Sweden)
Startracks, run by Fredrik Holmgren, has been in existence for a bit more than 20 years. Already active in the 80s with a fanzine and a DIY mail order selling punk rock records, Fredrik went on to become active in all aspects of the business, from his collaboration with Chickenbrain Records to working in record stores or becoming involved in artists management. Loyal to its DIY ethics, the label keeps working quietly on regular underground releases.
A few artists to watch out for: KRISTOFER ASTRÖM, REFUSED, LEIAH
17. SUBTERFUGE RECORDS (Spain)
Madrid-based Subterfuge Records was founded in 1989 by Carlos Galan. Its name comes from the fanzine Subterfuge, a reference in underground culture from the very first issue. With Devil Came to Me by the band Dover, Subterfuge has released the best-selling album in the history of independent music in Spain, pocketing no less than 6 platinum records.
A few artists to watch out for: MCENROE, ARIZONA BABY, AUTUMN COMETS
18. SUGAR MUSIC (Italy)
Based in Milan, Sugar Music is a family owned, independent record label and publisher. The company was established in 1932 by Ladislao Sugar and soon made a name for itself as the foremost independent record company in Italy. It is also one of the most prominent Italian music publishers. The company serves as a creative hub run by Filippo Sugar, representing the third Sugar family generation. Filippo is the only child of Piero Sugar and Caterina Caselli, a key figure in talent scouting and record production in Italy. The label’s catalogue includes over 80,000 titles from household names such as Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Umberto Tozzi, Lucio Battisti and Paolo Conte. The company recently clinched a double number one in the charts, both in Europe and in the U.S. with a release by Andrea Bocelli.
A few artists to watch out for: NEGRAMARO, IMPALA album of the year nominee ANDREA BOCELLI, MALIKA AYANE
19. SUPRAPHON (Czech Republic)
Based in Prague, Supraphon is one of the oldest European record labels. It is mainly oriented towards classical music, with an emphasis on Czech and Slovak composers. The Supraphon name, originally used for a renowned electric record player, was first registered as a trademark in 1932! In the post-war years, SUPRAPHON became the label for Czechoslovakian albums produced for export, playing a significant role in building the fame of Czech classical music worldwide.
In Czechoslovakia, it was one of the three major state-owned labels, the other two being Panton and Opus. Nowadays, Panton is a division of Supraphon.
A few key releases nicely highlighted on the Supraphon website.
20. WAGRAM MUSIC (France)
WAGRAM MUSIC is French independent record label established in 1996. It is based in Paris, with offices in Berlin and Los Angeles, and is part of WAGRAM STORIES, a global independent company involved in film and series production, book publishing, live music and communication. The label is divided in 6 six imprints, each with a different music colour: Cinq7, 3ème Bureau, Chapter Two Records, WLab, LaBréa and Belem.
A few artists to watch out for: former IMPALA album of the year nominee ORELSAN, IMPALA platinum award recipient CORNEILLE, DOMINIQUE A
ICONIC EUROPEAN CONCERT VENUES
Touring is vital for independent artists, both in terms of visibility and income. And the live music experience will definitely be more important than ever for music fans once music venues are finally allowed to re-open their doors post-covid. Here, we look at 20 iconic European music venues.
1. A38 (Budapest, Hungary)
The A38 (or A38 ship) is an entertainment and cultural venue on the Danube river, opened in 2003. It is based on a repurposed decommissioned Ukrainian stone-carrier ship, now permanently anchored at the bottom of the Petofi Bridge. On top of the concert hall (capacity: 400), it also hosts a bar, a restaurant and an exhibition hall.
2. AKC METELKOVA MESTO (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Metelkova City is an autonomous social and cultural centre located in downtown Ljubljana. With a rich historic heritage and very unique aesthetic, it is considered as one of the most important venues dedicated to youth and independent culture in Slovenia. Located in old army barracks, it hosts a series of clubs including Channel Zero, Gala Hala, Klub Gormka and Menza pri Koritu. It is also one of the venues used by MENT, the leading festival and music conference in the region.
3. ANCIENNE BELGIQUE (Brussels, Belgium)
Known under this name since the 1930’s, the Ancienne Belgique (French for « Old Belgium”) is located in the historic heart of Brussels, within walking distance of the IMPALA office. It has a solid reputation for incredible acoustics and consists of two concert halls with three set-ups: the main hall (capacity: 2,000), the AB Box (which is a revisited cosy set-up of the main hall, with a capacity of 800) and the AB Club (capacity: 250) aimed at young up-and-coming acts.
4. BARBY (Tel-Aviv, Israel)
A well-known venue in the Tel Aviv indie-rock scene, the Barby club is a long- established music venue in the south of the City. The club, with a capacity of 600, hosts concerts almost every night, largely from more established local performers or international artists.
5. BERGHAIN (Berlin, Germany)
The Berghain club opened in 2004. Its name comes from the two city quarters that flank the south and north sides of the buildings: Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain and means “mountain grove” in German. It has become one of the world’s most (in)famous clubs with a solid reputation for its techno nights. With a capacity of 1,500, the venue is established in a former power plant and was formally recognised as a cultural institution in 2016.
6. Centro Cultural Vila Flor (Guimaraes, Portugal)
The Centro Cultural Vila Flor is the main concert venue of Guimaraes, the first historical capital of Portugal. It is made of the restored Vila Flor Palace and its Gardens, and the construction of a new building for the theatre. Inaugurated in September 2005 with a Madredeus concert, the CCVF has a large auditorium with a capacity of about 800 seats and a small auditorium with 200 seats. The new building also houses a restaurant, a café and an exhibition area. It is also the seat of the municipal assembly, as well as the central venue of the Westway Lab festival and conference.
7. COLOURS Music Festival (Ostrava, Czech Republic)
Colours of Ostrava, or simply Colours, is a multi-genre festival, the biggest international music festival in the Czech Republic and one of the biggest music events in Central Europe. Although a festival, it has been chosen by IMPALA’s national association PLatforma as it is such a significant national venue because of its unique location in an old industrial site of former ironworks and steelworks in Dolní Vítkovice in the city of Ostrava, and also because it makes such an important role in the local music sector. Colours features 16 stages including 4 big open-air stages (the main one with a capacity of 15,000), 6 indoor stages, a theatre stage, a workshop stage, a kids’ stage, a cinema and live discussions. It encompasses all major music genres, as well as avant-garde music.
8. EL SOL (Madrid, Spain)
Since 1979, El Sol has thrived and stood the test of time. El Sol is a classic venue founded during Madrid’s “Movida” movement era and has hosted the best pop and rock artists from the national and international scene. Artists like Alaska y los Pegamoides, La Unión, Radio Futura have all performed there. El Sol also hosts book and record launches as well as award ceremonies. It has also been used to record films and music videos.
9. EXPIRAT (Bucharest, Romania)
The Expirat club is functioning in one of Bucharest’s old factory buildings. Established in 2002, Expirat is one of the most successful live venues in Bucharest. With a capacity of 400, Expirat is the place to go see all the established alternative/indie bands play, but also welcomes up-and-coming bands from Romania and abroad.
10. FLEX (Vienna, Austria)
FLEX is a nightclub located between underground station Schottenring and Augartenbrücke in Vienna. Many international indie acts have played in the club, which is rated as one of the best nightclubs in Europe. Its sound system is also widely considered one of the best on the continent. Active since the 90s, the club hosts multi-cultural events from all over the globe, focusing primarily on DJ sets and live acts. Building its reputation on drum and bass, Flex has adopted a seven-day cycle with different musical themes each night of the week.
11. KORJAAMO (Helsinki, Finland)
The Korjaamo culture factory is based in the Taka – Töölö district of Helsinki and is an old tram repair yard that also houses the local tram museum alongside the culture factory itself. Opened in 2004, it uses the former tram halls as various spaces for cultural activities including live shows, restaurants, cinema and art gallery.
12. LOPPEN (Copenhagen, Denmark)
LOPPEN is an alternative not-for-profit concert venue housed in an old army hall in Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen. Opened in 1973 to support the local underground scene, it has welcomed alternative, aggressive, provocative and danceable music since then. The building is also home to a flea market, a restaurant and an art gallery.
13. L’USINE (Genève, Switzerland)
L’Usine is both an alternative and self-managed cultural centre and a structure bringing together 18 collectives and associations. It is established in the former Geneva gold roughing factory, a building located on the banks of the Rhône, made available by the municipality in 1989. The association’s ethics (for life and work) are based on “self-management, pleasure and openness to others”. The venue includes concert halls, nightclubs, art galleries, theatre, cinema and various branches dedicated to development of creative and recreational activities.
14. OLYMPIA (Paris, France)
The Olympia hall is a concert venue located in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, between the Madeline church and the Opéra Garnier. It was opened in 1888 by the co-creators of the Moulin Rouge venue, and built a reputation for hosting opera, ballet and music hall performances. The Olympia was converted into a cinema before WWII before re-opening as a music venue in 1954. It currently has a capacity of 1,996.
15. PARADISO (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Located in Amsterdam’s city centre, the Paradiso is housed in a converted 19th century church building that dates from the 19th century and that was used until 1965 as the meeting hall for a liberal Dutch religious group. The main concert hall has high ceilings and two balcony rings overlooking the stage area, with three large, illuminated church windows above the stage. In addition to the main concert hall, there are two smaller cafe stages, on the upper floor and in the basement. The venue is known for its eclectic range of programming, which also includes lectures, plays, classical music, and crossover artists.
16. PARCO DELLA MUSICA (Roma, Italy)
The Auditorium Parco Della Musica is a modern multi-functional complex, blending cutting-edge architecture and state of the art acoustics encompassing three enormous concert halls and a 3000-seat open-air arena. Designed by Renzo Piano, the Auditorium is the centre for many spectacular live music concerts such as classical, abstract contemporary, art music, chamber and sacred music while hosting many cultural events in Rome such as the International Film Festival. The Auditorium is also home to one of Italy’s finest orchestras, the Orchestra of Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
17. PROGRESJA (Warsaw, Poland)
Progresja opened in 2003 as a small rock club. In the following years, the club moved to bigger venues to become Poland’s biggest music club. Although for many years the club has been mostly associated with rock and metal music, its stage currently hosts shows by mainstream stars, pop singers, electronic and alternative bands or even jazz groups.
18. PUSTERVIK (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Since the early 20th century, Pustervik has been a part of the entertainment and culture scene in Gothenburg. Today, it’s the most prominent club and concert venue in town. In what used to be both a cinema and theatre, there is now a music stage complete with two bars and a balcony, with a capacity of 900 people.
19. ROCKEFELLER MUSIC HALL (Oslo, Norway)
The Rockefeller is located in Torggata in downtown Oslo. The building, known as the “Market Street Bath” used to house a public bathing facility. The music hall was established in 1986 and can host between 1600 and 2000 people depending on the type of concert. The venue consists of a main hall, a large gallery, a smaller upper gallery, a rooftop with bar, and several lounge bars on the sides of the main music hall. Several popular podcasts and radio shows are regularly recorded at the Rockefeller.
20. ROUNDHOUSE (London, United Kingdom)
The Roundhouse is a performing arts and concert venue located in a former railway engine shed in Camden Town. It was originally built in 1847 as a circular building containing a railway turntable but was only used for this purpose for about a decade. After being used as a warehouse for a number of years, the building fell into disuse. It reopened in 1964 as a performing arts venue and was adapted as a theatre. It was closed again in 2004 for re-development and re-opened in 2006, hosting many concerts and various awards ceremonies since then.
EUROPEAN NATIONAL ASSOCIATIONS
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)
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)
19. VTMÖ – Verband unabhängiger Tonträgerunternehmen, Musikverlage und MusikproduzentInnen Österreich (Austria)
20. VUT – Verband Unabhängiger Musikunternehmer (Germany)
WHAT IMPALA HAS ACHIEVED IN 20 MILESTONES
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)
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)
9. Two thirds of labels signing WIN’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration are European (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. Music Moves Europe programme is launched, first European programme dedicated to music (2018)
15. IMPALA acknowledges the climate emergency and commits to making the independent sector ecologically sustainable and regenerative, as well as using our voice to support Music Declares Emergency in Brussels (2019)
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 plan, mapping 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
Coudenberg 70, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM
+32 2 503 31 38