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Indie Labels Could Take More Market Share

Reuters reports that the music industry has delayed publishing its global market share figures because of supposed squabbles over the methodology for counting digital sales.

The disagreement comes at a time when the industry is facing growing criticism that it is controlled by too few companies. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the music sector's global trade group, released its annual compendium of 2005 industry data -- with the market share figures omitted.

The four major music companies -- Vivendi's Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI Group and Warner Music -- account for about three of every four albums sold in the world.

The IFPI said its members were still tussling over how to account for digital sales, and that the figures would be released later in the year. By that time the information will be nearly a year out of date. The trade body said there were no market share figures to disclose as yet because it had not yet collected them for 2005.

"They're basically recalculating the way they do it because of the rise of digital," IFPI spokesman Alex Jacob said. But, could there be yet another reason? Is it possible that the continued growth of the independent labels has created a PR problem for the majors -- because it sends a very troubling message to their investors?

As an example, according to the IFPI's 2004 data, the latest year for which information is available, Universal's global share was 25.5 percent, Sony BMG 21.5 percent, EMI 13.4 percent, Warner 11.3 percent and the independent labels 'collectively' at 28.4 percent (i.e. more than any one of the majors).

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