Results of the first study of Latin American independent music

In an unprecedented exercise, the Latin American Observatory of Independent Music (OLMI) has gathered information from 11 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.  

The project is promoted by trade associations A.S.I.Ar, ABMI and IMICHILE, with the support of WIN, and developed by the ODMC.  

The first results of the Latin American Observatory of Independent Music (OLMI), which seeks to understand and define the independent music ecosystem in the region, are now available. This study of independent music in Latin America sets precedents as a fundamental tool for the healthy development of industries throughout the region.

In this first stage, OLMI reviewed information, collected data and generated profiles for 11 countries. In addition to compiling the macroeconomic panorama of each territory, the Observatory carried out surveys in Chile, Uruguay, Peru and Bolivia, and conducted interviews with two record label companies -one with experience and another emerging- in the 11 participating countries. In Brazil, data was provided from the report “Análise do Mercado da Música no Brasil” carried out by ABMI. In Argentina, a collaboration was achieved with the Música+Data initiative, the first report of the Argentine phonographic sector promoted by A.S.I.Ar. The objective was to develop a broader map of what is happening in the entire region, allowing a specific analysis of each territory; vital information for growth, feedback and collaboration at a regional American level.

This is an unprecedented project, which covers a wide territory, showing its particularities and presenting a radiography of its music scene with a special focus on the independent sector. A great challenge that seeks to promote regional connection, and data exchange and collection, in a sector that is often invisible due to lack of information.

One of the main learnings from this process was understanding that the reality of the countries is quite different. There are territories with a very precarious and incipient industry, others with a much more mature industry but with economic problems, and others that are developing or have good growth potential. These three realities coexist, and the most mature industries serve as an example for those that are developing rapidly, explains Cristóbal Dañobeitia, president of the ODMC and director of OLMI.

The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the organization that represents the interests of the international community of independent music producers -including the promoter associations of this project ABMI, ASIAr and IMICHILE- also sees this study as a significant contribution to the ecosystem and data of the region:

Latin America is undoubtedly one of the regions that sparks the most interest in the global music industry, due to its spectacular growth in recent years and the potential that it can still unlock. The lack of specific data on the independent music sector is a global challenge, but especially true in Latin America. OLMI was created to fill this gap and provide information that allows the world to know the reality of the diverse musical ecosystems of the region. It is a project that was born from the joint effort of the three WIN member associations in South America and reflects the importance of cooperation and the work of regional networks -such as the LatAm Network- that we promote from our organization, says Noemí Planas, general manager of WIN.

This is an impact study that breaks down the barriers of unawareness and allows the comparison of realities through data ranging from general information on the territories and its economies, the recorded music revenue, the number of artists and releases from the independent sector, the sales of instruments, the cultural consumption, and information such as preferred musical genres or musical events attendance.

As the recorded music industry is not a very formalized one in any of these countries, the data provided by the majors does not reflect the reality we live in. It is even more necessary to carry out this study of the independent sector, to which 95% of creators belong to. Almost all the contents and creations that originate in the region are independent, and there lies the importance of knowing this data: to support it, develop it and show the foreign investment markets the best decisions and strategies based on the trends, projections and motivations of each territory, adds Dañobeitia.

A complete profile is presented by country that includes, in addition to data, a qualitative characterization of the independent sector: companies that are not part of or depend on majors, as well as artists that are not in major record label and that are self-managed or represented by local intermediaries. This allows a much clearer idea of how each territory works and offers a general panorama of the region.

The different levels of organization within each territory was the main challenge faced in this first stage. It is difficult to identify or contact valid representatives of each music scene when there are no associations or there is little formality or collaboration within it.

This initiative is set to become a long-term proposal, collecting and updating its data annually, and increasing the depth with which all markets are covered and the number of countries that participate. In the future, it is expected to include all the countries of the region and use the same methodology for each territory. Therefore, it is essential that new allies join from each participating country to widen the scope of the project and obtain financing for its continuity.

Latin America does not have a place where information on the economic figures of independent music can be consulted in a comparative way. There is a lot of ignorance and we tend to look at the North American market. One of OLMI’s main challenges is to become a statistical data platform and to add data analysis from streaming platforms to find out what is being played, where do the musicians come from, and what is the relationship of each country with independent music. We want to try to have a partner in each territory to carry out quantitative surveys, which is somewhat difficult due to the cost, but it is essential to generate data as we have already done in Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru and Argentina. We want to expand this to Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica and hopefully add other countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Panama, Dañobeitia concludes.

The Latin American Observatory of Independent Music (OLMI) is a data analytics platform that aims to define the Latin American independent music ecosystem by considering the social, cultural and economic aspects of each country. The focus is on collecting, analysing data and making it available online to allow a more accurate interpretation of the reality of these territories. Thus, decision-making processes can be improved and the consolidation of the region at a local and international level can be encouraged. OLMI is driven by the independent music associations of the region: A.S.I.Ar (Argentina), ABMI (Brazil) and IMICHILE (Chile). It has the support of the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) and it has been developed by the Observatory of Independent Chilean Music (ODMC), which has the technological and professional infrastructure to develop successful projects in this area. In this way, we can gather and generate information and make it readily available, ensuring its quality, security, transparency and accessibility. The spirit behind this project is to build a collaborative network throughout Latin America to create a partnership that enables research and the gathering of information.  

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