In 2006, AIM (UK), AAIM – currently A2IM (USA), AIR (Australia) and IMPALA(Europe), came together with the objective of providing a single voice and structure to represent the indie community globally. Along with the other existing independent music trade associations at the time they formed the initial WIN platform. The Worldwide Independent Network Limited was formally incorporated in the UK in 2016 and today has 33 members from 37 countries around the world.
The first ever worldwide celebration of independent music was Independents Day, on the 4th of July, 2008. WIN’s first global event was a synchronised programme of fundraising in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Spain, raising awareness of the sector across the world.
The Global Independent Standard was first agreed in January 2012 in a summit which gathered 80 independent music executives. It is a 10-point global collective manifesto for independent music entrepreneurs and organisations which can be adopted and applied nationally and globally.
Our Performance Rights Initiative was put in place in 2012. Led by the WIN Secretariat together with a focus group of member record company experts, it continues to provide assistance to independent music trade associations and their members.
15 international independent record label representatives formed the funding WIN council in 2013. Today, the WIN board combines labels and independent music trade associations from all key music markets around the world.
In July 2014, nearly 2000 independent labels signed the Fair Digital Deals Declaration. It is a commitment made by independent record label signatories around the world to treat their artists fairly in agreements relating to digital exploitation of their work in recorded music agreements with third parties.
In 2014 and after months of intensive campaigning, WIN was successful in persuading YouTube to return to their negotiations with Merlin, leading to a collective commercial deal. In summer 2015, a similar success was achieved ensuring that independent artists and labels were properly remunerated and fairly represented on Apple Music.
The first global get-together of independent music trade associations was held in 2013 at Midem. Renamed WINCON in 2015, it is WIN’s annual member conference. Associations meet to share knowledge and resources, to learn from each other, and to celebrate being part of a global community.
The first WINTEL report was published in 2016. It was commissioned to analyse the global economic and cultural impact of the independent music sector. That and subsequent editions have provided the most accurate picture of the global value of the sector.
WIN acts as a central forum that continuously monitors developments in a wide range of countries. We identify and address issues of broad significance to the independent sector internationally, promote best practices, and collaborate with wider industry groups. The international support of the Copyright Directive reform in the years prior to its approval in 2019 is an example of this kind of cooperation.
In 2019, the WIN Development Plan updated and outlined the organisation’s strategy to promote associative work in markets without an independent music trade association, with the objective to foster the professionalization and structuring of the independent sector.
IFPI and WIN, working together on behalf of the global recording industry, launched the Repertoire Data Exchange (RDx) in 2020. It is the industry data portal for the supply and exchange of performance rights repertoire data between record companies and Music Licensing Companies, and an example of the benefits derived from the implementation of common technical standards.
Regional networks are collaborative platforms where independent music companies and trade associations can effectively exchange knowledge, generate strategies, and design solutions that contribute to the development of the music sector in their own markets and across the region. WIN’s LatAm Network was officially launched in 2020 and the APAC Alliance in 2021.
The Latin American Observatory of Independent Music and the Pan-Am Indie Summit, first launched in 2021, are examples of collaborative projects jointly organised by WIN members. They exemplify what associations can achieve when they come together and work towards a common goal, building capacity at the local and regional level.
Where do you see the independent music sector in 15 years?
“If the planet still allows humans to be on this planet, the independent music industry is still strong and healthy…. And maybe we find a way to have even more control about data and metadata.”Jörg Heidemann
“It’s an ever-changing landscape, the community will continue to grow and create more opportunities for our unique voices to be heard.”Dylan Pellett
“I see it unified globally.” Oliver KnustOliver Knust
“Significant market share increase, the number one partner for all services whether digital or physical or metaversal or whatever the next iteration is.”Helen Smith