COVID-19 Indie Label Surey: Results and Conclusion

The Coronavirus pandemic highly affects the indie record labels too, turned out from a recent survey. Cancelled releases and events, missing income and still binding taxes. But the results of HAIL – Hungarian Association of Independent Labels’ survey pointed out the light: most of the indie labels will be able to continue after the crisis. 


HAIL had been funded in 2018 in Budapest with the support of IMPALA. The main goal of the association is to stand for the independent record labels not just in Hungary but also on a regional level, on events and within associations, to be a federation of small labels that otherwise would be weak on their own, and to stabilise them on the market. The aim of this survey was to get a clearer view of the Hungarian indie label scene and get an idea of the damage caused by Coronavirus pandemic. With these results HAIL wants to form an efficient help and support in cooperation with IMPALA, who recently released a ten points crisis plan.  


The survey pointed out that the Hungarian indie labels, with just a couple of exceptions, are maximum 5 capita small enterprises, and almost half of them work as ‘KATA-paying’ self employed or freelancer. KATA is a special fixed monthly priced taxation in Hungary supposed to make taxpaying easier, however it has its disadvantages too. The results also told us that most of their coworkers are not their employees but also ‘KATA-paying’ self-employed contractors. This shows how important it would be if the government would ease these circles’ tax paying bond, just like it did with performing artists too. In the other hand it also turned what are the other taxes being huge burden on their shoulders, what needs to be eased. 


78,6% of the indie labels do booking and management for their artists and 35,7% of them do publishing, rights management and synch too. Taking into account the above, as well as the responses we have received, we can say that typically 50-75% of the respondents income comes from live performances, while the rest is made up from other sources mentioned above. Their second significant income is the physical sales and royalties, and digital sales and streaming got only the third place on their list – two-third of the respondents marked as below 25% of their income. 


We wanted to see how many artists an indie label sign in general. The result is equal between them: one-third of the labels sign maximum 5 artists, one-third sign maximum 10, and one-third of them has signed more than 10 artists. The majority 71,4% planned 1 to 5 releases for 2020, the rest planned maximum 10, but 78,6% of all the respondents planned releases during the virus-affected March-May months. Half of them had to cancel or postpone at least 1-2 releases, but quarter of them had to cancel or postpone even more. 38% of the labels expects an income drop-out between 50.000 HUF to 200.000 HUF what is close to the Hungarian average monthly salary, and 23% of them expects even more drop-out.

85% of the labels had to cancel live performances too, and they couldn’t save 30% of these performances and reschedule them to autumn, but 10% had been successfully rescheduled. 

Even if these Hungarian-scale worrying numbers and drop-outs only 7% of the respondent labels said they have a big chance to get bankrupt during these months of pandemic crisis, but a promising 57,1% said that even if they don’t have savings they can carry on later. However the survey had not dig into this question it can be presumed correctly that the majority of the indie labels in Hungary don’t make full-time living of their work but have another full or part-time job besides.