Group buys 50% stake in agency in deal based on “mutual recognition”

The indie sector has increased its presence in the mobile music market following a significant deal between Wall Of Sound parent group Pias and Indie Mobile.

In the deal Pias has taken a 50% stake in the Bristol-based mobile marketing and digital distribution agency after making a “significant”, but undisclosed investment in Indie Mobile, which represents more than 400 indie labels. A senior Pias executive is likely to join the Indie Mobile board as a result of the deal.

Both Pias group director of digital and business development Adrian Pope and Indie Mobile managing director Seth Jackson promise the synergies between the two groups will deliver better services to their labels – and the independent sector – while significantly increasing the revenues they are currently earning from the market.

Pope says Pias, which also includes Vital: Pias Digital, Vital Distribution and Pias Recordings within its group, has been performing well in the mobile market, earning revenues of the order of “hundreds of thousands of pounds”. However, with the market for full-track downloads doubling each month and a bigger appetite for indie repertoire, Pope explains that the company had a choice – to either grow organically or link with a suitable partner. He believes Indie Mobile fits the bill because of its focus on indie repertoire.

Mobile is already a significant part of our business. The deal was born out of a mutual recognition that the synergies were such that in combination we can create the definitive, professional mobile solution for independent labels and artists. We could have grown organically and invested in new people or invested in a company which could give us synergies. Indie Mobile understands the indie spirit and gives us new routes to market,” he says.

Pope believes the deal with Indie Mobile will also provide a better range of services it can provide labels, such as digital marketing and SMS campaigns. He adds, “There are several key points from this. The deal brings together all the premium content we represent and Indie Mobile has great content as well. It genuinely means revenues will increase and there will be a better resource for a route to market. There is also the opportunity to swell the labels’ digital marketing offer.”

On his side Jackson, whose company represents more than 200 rightsholders and distributes their mobile content across 23 territories, says a “bunch of money helps everything“. “It gives us more commercial clout and makes it easier to do network deals or get better commercial terms,” he says.

In addition to the resources and roster Pias provides, the Indie Mobile managing director also believes that Pias will be able to provide better accounting and feedback to labels because of the music company’s expertise and experience in royalty accounting.

They (a music company) are always going to do that better than a mobile aggravator,” adds Jackson. “The deal will allow us to do what we already do, just better and on a larger scale. We have always believed that independent music has the potential to be a significant player in the mobile arena.

Jackson and Pope also stress the international nature of the deal as helping to grow the business. Jackson recognises that Pias’s network of international offices, especially throughout Europe, will give it an edge on competitors who are not able to call on people with local knowledge of France or Spain.

Indie Mobile

Represents in excess of 70,000 tracks from more than 400 leading independent labels

Supplies the mobile networks and also offers labels mobile marketing and retail initiatives to support their products and campaigns

Indie Mobile campaigns have won the BT Digital Music Award for Best Use of Mobile twice in the last three years

Pias Group

Has offices in the UK, Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain in addition to partners in every other European country and affiliates based in territories such as Australia

Parent of Vital Distribution, the UK’s largest independent sales and distribution company, representing more than 75 labels, including Beggars Group, XL Recordings, Big Brother, Warp and Defected

Owns Integral, the marketing arm for independent labels, and digital distribution business Vital:Pias Digital, which represents more than 100 labels.

Hits in the near future: sales of Klaxons’ debut album increased almost five-fold in the 24 hours after winning the Mercury award.

CMP Information Ltd.


By the time you read this, I may be dead.

Okay, not dead. But I might have had a crusty bread roll thrown at me in anger–or even a tumbler of Sambuca ‘accidentally’ spilled down my shirt.

This was mine and Intent Media‘s first ever Music Week Awards. Our aim was to make the event a bit less stuffy, a mite more funny and a whole bunch snappier.

But if we were hoping to please the whole room, to gift each and every wine-guzzling table with silverware and glee, an extraordinary year for the market was never going to let us.

I’ll admit it: the domination of 2012’s event by the independent sector has probably left a few major label bonces feeling extra sore today–and may even have inspired some rude words to be pinged towards my email inbox overnight. (If you didn’t gently deliver them to me at the after-party first. If so, morning!)

This was an awards ceremony that reflected Adele‘s magic like none other. PIAS, Purple PR and, obviously, XL and Jonathan Dickins were all befittingly saluted for their role in the industry story of the decade. Richard Russell deserved his Strat for a special recognition to the market regardless–but it’s no fluke Ms. Adkins was the first to congratulate him on screen.

Yet that wasn’t the end of the indie triumphs; PIAS, Proper, Bella Union, Kobalt, Sound It Out–the non-PLC prizes just kept on coming throughout the evening.

A freak landslide? Nah. The manifestation of a shifting, thrilling modern market in which anyone–large or small–can grab the ascendancy? You betcha.

These were, after all, winners that you, the trade, decided. We promised the hundreds of Music Week readers who voted that their ballot would remain secret, and that guarantee remains. But I can say that our indie victors received ticks in boxes from senior executives across major labels, heavyweight publishers, dominant media houses, live giants and many more besides.

It was heartening to observe, proving that behind the heat of competition; behind the jovial backbiting and the rabid sales envy, people in this business know a hard-fought success when they see one–and they know when it deserves to be recognised.

It wasn’t all indie mania, of course. It was hardly a miserable night for the publishing arms of EMI and Universal, while Warner Music picked up two prizes. And, for the record, there were very few landslides–notably, the Artist Marketing Campaign, Promotions Team, Catalogue Marketing Campaign, PR Campaign and Live Music Venue categories were very close-run contests.

By now, we’ve all heard the apocryphal tale of the major label boss who says he doesn’t mind the indies having Adele this year so long as the next market phenomenon is all his team’s doing.

Until 2013, then. It should be a cracker.

But before all that–does anyone know how to get a tricky Sambuca stain out?

Tim Ingham,


When is an indie not an indie? As major record companies become more involved with the independent label and distribution marketplace, it becomes increasingly difficult to draw the line between independent and major.

But each year, when Billboard compiles charts for this issue, we make the call. The determining criterion: The product must be sold exclusively through independent distribution.

A few factors to keep in mind:

Ownership by a major does not disqualify a label from consideration. As two examples, Tommy Boy is owned by Warner Bros., and PolyGram is the parent company of Island’s independent labels (i.e. 4th & B’way, Mango). But, the titles from such labels that appear on these charts were sold through indie channels.

Conversely, more and more indie labels–like Critique and Radikal–have worked out distribution deals with majors. In the cases where indie titles were sold by a major, those titles were excluded from these lists.

There are some arrangements by which a conventional single is sold through majors, while the maxisingle formats are sold through indies. In order to appear on the independent label singles charts, all configurations of a title must be sold through independents.

An act that qualifies for one independent chart might not be eligible for another. On the singles charts, K.W.S.’s “Please Don’t Go” is included, because it was sold through indies. But, the group’s album was sold by PolyGram Group Distribution, and thus is ineligible for the other charts.

The involvement of a major label’s promotion staff does not disqualify a single, so long as the title in question is sold through independents. This is the case with Dr. Dre‘s single. Similarly, Interscope‘s involvement with this project does not remove Dre from the independent album charts, because his album is sold by Priority.

These charts represent a 52-week span, from the issue dated Feb. 22, 1992, to the one dated Feb. 13, 1993. In addition to the charts included in last year’s Indie Spotlight, we have added a Top R&B Singles chart.

The lists are based on the same methodologies used to compile the year-end charts. With the exception of the charts that are based on The Billboard 200 and Hot 100 Singles, the results are based on a point system created by a complex inverse relationship to each week’s chart position.

For the Top Albums list, ranks are determined by the sales these titles registered during the time they appeared on The Billboard 200. The Pop Singles list is based on each title’s accumulated weekly point totals on The Hot 100, which factors in sales and airplay.

Sales data for The Billboard 200 is provided by SoundScan, which also supplies the sales information used in the formulation of Hot 100 Singles. Major-market airplay data on Hot 100 Singles is provided by Broadcast Data Systems.

For the last two-and-a-half months of the tracking year, BDS and SoundScan provided data to the R&B charts.