Brussels, 19th January 2012

A new European Music Office/Eurosonic-Noordeslag/Nielsen study (available here) demonstrates the lack of circulation of European music across borders. The purpose of this report, entitled “Music crossing borders – monitoring the cross-border circulation of European music repertoire within the European Union” and written by music journalist Emmanuel Legrand, is to assess the circulation of music repertoire across European borders. It reveals that the only repertoire circulating effectively across Europe is US repertoire.

Although not the focus of the study, figures available in the report demonstrate that the majors are completely dominating Europe’s top 200 download and airwaves charts. In light of the recent announcement that EMI recording and EMI publishing would be sold to Universal and Sony respectively, it is interesting to note that, when combined, Universal, Sony and EMI account for 76.5% of tracks downloaded in Europe between September 2010 and August 2011 (p. 121), and 76% of tracks played on air over the same period (p. 119). Universal and EMI alone would represent 49.5% of tracks downloaded (p. 121) and 54% of airplay tracks (p. 119). The share of US repertoire in the countries surveyed is over 50% for airplay and just below 50% for downloads (p. 17).

These figures confirm IMPALA’s ongoing research of 2011 airplay and download data which shows an astonishing 95 out of the top 100 downloads and 94 out of the top 100 airplay in Europe are majors’ releases, with the two market leaders Universal and Sony already far ahead of the rest of the competition. Even the Top 1000 is highly dominated by the majors – over 90% of the Top 1000 for both download and airplay is major and less than 10% is independent.

Helen Smith, Executive Chair IMPALA, said “These results are very revealing, especially as they already factor in independent successes such as Adele. They send a serious warning about the dangers of concentration in music for diversity in Europe.”


IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are SMEs. Known as the “independents”, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists – they produce more than 80% of all new releases. SME’s also produce 80% of Europe’s jobs. Their potential is enormous but is hampered by complex barriers to trade and severe market access problems. The impact on diversity, consumer choice and pluralism is clear. Over 95% of what most people hear and see, whether on radio, retail or the internet, is concentrated in the hands of four multinationals, known as the majors.

Cultural and creative SMEs are now officially recognised by the EU as “the drivers of growth, job creation and innovation”. IMPALA expects the EC and its member countries to put in place key investment, digital and market access measures. Fostering Europe’s economy of culture and diversity is one of the EU’s top priorities in becoming the world’s leading knowledge economy. Culture is a bigger earner than any of chemicals, automobiles or ICT manufacturing and provides more than 3% of Europe’s jobs. IMPALA has its own award schemes to help promote cultural diversity and new talent and highlight the artistic contribution of independent music. IMPALA award winning artists include Efterklang, Adele, Manu Chao, Radiohead, Agnes Obel, Caro Emerald and Sigur Ros.

IMPALA – Independent Music Companies Association

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