Central Cee, KSI and Wolf Alice lead the rise of independent music

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Artists like Central Cee, Wolf Alice, KSI and Wet Leg are at the forefront of the independent music boom, with independent labels’ share of the UK music market having reached just under 27% in 2021.

New analysis based on data from the Official Charts Company and published in the annual BPI yearbook All About Music 2022 proves the prosperity of the independent music scene, boosted by classic LP releases and an abundance of independent records reaching the official album chart.

The report reveals that the share of album sales by independent artists reached 34.2% in 2021, driven by albums such as Central Cee’s debut album Wild West, Arlo Parks’ Collapsed in Sunbeams and Blue Weekend by Wolf Alice.

MORE: The Official Top 40 Greatest Albums of 2022 So Far

The collective share of UK music consumption attributable to independent labels increased to 26.9% in 2021. This figure was up from 25.9% in 2020 and is significantly higher than the figure 22.1% recorded in 2017..

Independent labels’ share of artist album sales grew by more than a tenth in just two years, growing across all formats from 30.4% in 2019 to 34.2% in 2021. UK vinyl market share has grown even more strongly and in 2021 they accounted for four in ten vinyl record purchases (39.5%) – up from 33.9% in 2019.

The strong performance reflects a particularly successful year for independent artists, with 60 independent albums charting in the Official Top 10 (vs. 52 in 2020), including number 1 albums from artists such as Mogwai, KSI and High Flying Birds of Noel Gallagher, while new artists including Central Cee, KSI and AJ Tracey have each racked up hundreds of millions of streams in the UK alone.

The enduring appeal of indie albums that have become classics is now allowing them to find new audiences through streaming and vinyl sales. Arctic Monkeys’ 2013 AM release was the best-selling independent album of 2021, while Adele’s 21 and 25 also fueled the sector’s success.

This positive trend continues strongly in 2022, with highly anticipated new albums from Wet Leg – set to debut at number 1 on the Official Albums Chart ahead of fellow indie artists Father John Misty and Jack White – AJ Tracey and Fontaines DC, the growing momentum is expected to continue.

MORE: The Official Top 40 Greatest Songs of 2022 So Far

Official 2021 Top 10 Independent Albums Chart

  1. Arctic Monkeys / AM (Domino recordings)
  2. Adele / 25 (XL recordings)
  3. KSI / Everywhere (BMG)
  4. Central Cee / Far West (Central Cee)
  5. Adele/21 (XL recordings)
  6. Arctic Monkeys / Everything People Say I Am (That’s What I Am Not) (Domino Recordings)
  7. Wolf Alice / Blue Weekend (Dirty Hit)
  8. Bo Burnham / Inside (The Songs) (imperial)
  9. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds / Back The Way We Came Vol.1 (Sour Mash)
  10. AJ Tracey / Flu Game (Revenge Records)

© Official Map Company

Official Independent Singles Chart 2021 Top 10

  1. KSI/Vacation (BMG)
  2. Tom Zanetti / I Didn’t Know (SIC)
  3. Adele / Someone Like You (XL Recordings)
  4. Cee central / Commitment issues (Ce central)
  5. Central Cee / Loading (Central Cee)
  6. Arctic Monkeys / Do I Wanna Know (Domino Recordings)
  7. Arctic Monkeys / Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High (Domino Recordings)
  8. Shouse / Love Tonight (Onelove Recordings)
  9. Adele / Rolling In The Deep (XL recordings)
  10. Passenger / Let Her Go (Nettwerk)

© Official Map Company

BPI information is based on Official Map Company data and are taken from All About the Music 2022 – the 43rd edition of the BPI Yearbook, which has just been released.

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