Definion of Majors:
(Majors are UMG – Universal Music Group, WMG – Warner Music Group, Sony BMG and EMI)
- A world-wide presence and a vertically integrated organization. Majors or their affiliated companies also have publishing activities and are active on various downstream markets, such as radio/TV broadcasting and the online exploitation of music.
- A presence at all levels of the value chain in music recording: from the signing of artists, the manufacture of CDs, to the distribution to retailers, although these two latter activities tend to be more and more outsourced.
- Significant financial capacities, enabling them to offer artists and customers more attractive financial conditions than independents (for example higher advances for artists, much higher promotional and marketing expenditure).
- A large diversified portfolio of artists and a large diversified repertoire, as well as significant back catalogues.
- Smaller organizations.
- A large number of players present on the market (thousands in the EEA).
- A focus on A&R and recording. Manufacturing and distribution are often outsourced. Independents often depend on the distribution networks of majors.
- Only some large independent record companies have their own distribution facilities.
- A national presence although a limited number of successful independents also have international operations.
- Limited budget for promotional and marketing expenditure, thus limiting the international promotion of artists and a more limited access to mass media.
- A focus on a particular repertoire (classical, dance music, etc.) or niche genres, although the largest independents generally cover several genres.
- Limited back catalogue, implying a higher dependency on new releases.