Both of the UK’s two biggest independent albums of 2021 were over 6 years old

The British trade association BPI released statistics this week showing the growing market share of the independent sector in the UK over the last year.


BPI reports that the collective share of UK music consumption accounted for by independent labels increased from 25.9% in 2020 to 26.9% in 2021.

Meanwhile, indie labels’ share of artist album sales rose from 30.4% in 2019 to 34.2% in 2021, while indie labels’ share of the UK vinyl market reached 39.5% last year, up from 33 .9% in 2019.

BPI reports that its analysis, based on Official Charts Company Data and extracted from it Everything about the music 2022 annual yearbook, shows “that independently released music is thriving in Britain”.

And it is.

Scratch beneath the surface, however, and there’s no hiding the impact non-frontline/catalog releases have had on those numbers…not to mention a major record label’s (Sony Music) blockbuster global marketing spend on Adele in 2021.

Of the top 5 highest performing albums of 2021, according to BPI statistics, three (60%) were released at least six years ago.

Was the UK’s No.1 independent album (in terms of sales plus streaming) in 2021 AM, the 2013 fifth album by British rock superstars Arctic Monkeys (Domino).

The Arctic Monkeys haven’t released an album since 2018 Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.

The second best selling independent album in the UK of 2021 was the XL Recordings release 25British megastar Adele’s third blockbuster album, released in 2015.

(XL owns the rights to Adele’s first three albums worldwide outside of the Americas, where they are distributed through Sony Music.)

Adele’s second album, 21was the fifth best-selling indie album of 2021.

It was released by XL in the UK in 2011 over a decade ago when it topped the charts in more than 30 countries and became the world’s best-selling album of the year in both 2011 and 2012.

Adele’s latest album 30, is signed to Sony Music worldwide and received a huge global marketing campaign from the major in the fourth quarter of last year. This marketing campaign raised Adele’s profile, with her back catalog benefiting from this publicity boost.

In fact, in a press release from BPI, the British organization says that Adele’s 21 and 25, published in 2011 and 2015 respectively, “drive the success of the [independent] Sector” in 2021.

Only two of the top 5 UK independent albums of the last year were released in 2021: KSIs Overall (BMG, No. 3) and Central Cee’s wild West (Central Cee, at #4).

At sixth place was another Arctic Monkey release, their debut album, Whatever people say I am (that’s what I’m not), (Domino Recordings), released 16 years ago, in 2006.

The remainder of BPI’s published Top 10 Best Performing Independent Albums list is occupied by 2021 releases: Wolf Alice’s third album blue weekend (Dirty Hit) at No. 7, Bo Burnham’s tragic comedy album Inside (The Songs) (Imperial) at No. 8 and AJ Tracey’s second album, flu game (Revenge Records), at number 10.

Sitting in 9th place was Previous The Way We Came Vol.1 (Sour Mash), a compilation album by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds released in 2021 but consists of songs released between 2011 and 2021.

Just one of the top 10 most successful indie albums in the UK last year, Central Cee’s Wild West, was a debut album released in 2021.

Official Independent Albums Chart 2021 Top 10 © Official Charts Company
  1. Arctic Monkeys, AM (domino recordings)
  2. Adele, 25 (XL recordings)
  3. ASI, Overall (BMG)
  4. Central Cee, wild West (Central Cee)
  5. Adele, 21 (XL recordings)
  6. Arctic Monkeys,Whatever people say I am (That’s Not Me) (Domino Recordings)
  7. Wolf Alice, blue weekend (dirty hit)
  8. Bo Burnham, Inside (The Songs) (imperial)
  9. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Previous The Way We Came Vol.1 (sour mash)
  10. AJ Tracey, flu game (revenge records)

The catalog’s dominance of the UK’s biggest independent records of the last year wasn’t limited to albums either.

Let’s consider the top 10 best performing independents singles in the UK in 2021, the BPI’s newly released statistics show that 50% of them were released at least six years ago.

Three out of 10, in fact, including Adele’s XL Recordings, which released hit singles in 2011 Rolling in The Deep (No.9) and Someone like You (No. 3) and the 2012 hit by Passenger let her go (No.10) (Nettwerk) were released at least a decade ago.

Arctic Monkeys also scored two of the top 10 best-selling indie singles of 2021, including I want to know and Why do you only call me when you’re high? (Domino Recordings), both off their 2013 album AM, which charted at #6 and #7, respectively.

The top performing independent single on the UK market last year was that of KSI Vacation (BMG) and the second best single was that of Tom Zanetti Did not know (SIC), both released in 2021.

Central Cee Singles binding issues and Loading were the fourth and fifth best selling independent singles in the UK for the past year (see below).

Official Independent Singles Chart 2021 Top 10 © Official Charts Company
  1. ASI, Vacation (BMG)
  2. Tom Zanetti, Did not know (SIC)
  3. Adele, Someone like You (XL recordings)
  4. Central Cee, binding issues (Central Cee)
  5. Central Cee, Loading (Central Cee)
  6. arctic monkeys, I want to know (domino recordings)
  7. Arctic Monkeys, Why do you only call me when you’re high? (domino recordings)
  8. shaus, love tonight (Onelove recordings)
  9. Adele, Rolling in The Deep (XL recordings)
  10. passenger, let her go (network)

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize, said: “Britain has an enviable independent music scene and is expanding choice and diversity for new and existing British talent.

“Britain has an enviable independent music scene and is increasing the choice and diversity for new and existing British talent.”

Geoff Taylor BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize

“This continued growth demonstrates that indie labels and artists are thriving in the streaming music era and are particularly thriving in the vinyl revival.

“We’re delighted to see the indie sector continue to grow and contribute to the growth of the UK music industry as a whole.”

music business worldwide Both of the UK’s two biggest independent albums of 2021 were over 6 years old

Fry Electronics Team

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