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Partnering to Support America’s Independent Music Industry

December 20, 2016

Jamie Merriman is Acting Director of ITA’s Office of Strategic Partnerships

The American music industry is integral to the U.S. economy and its culture. The growth of the U.S. music industry has a multiplier effect, impacting businesses in other industries, including technology, manufacturing, television, film, advertising, and video gaming.

Recognizing the importance of music to the U.S. economy and its potential for growth in the international market, the International Trade Administration (ITA) partnered with The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) in 2012.  Thanks to funding from a Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) award, A2IM has been able to support its members’ participation in trade events around the world, generating over $40 million in business for over fifty member companies.

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ITA’s delegation with the Consul General in Hamburg during the A2IM Trade Mission to Hamburg.

A2IM was introduced to ITA through its New York U.S. Export Assistance Center in February 2011. During the first meeting, A2IM learned of ITA’s export services such as the Gold Key, tailored business counseling and partners search, the International Buyer Program (IBP), the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP), and the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program available to NY exporters.

In the fall of 2011, A2IM embarked on its first ever trade mission to Asia (Beijing, China, Hong Kong, and Seoul, South Korea) via the STEP grant, and with support from ITA. A2IM subsequently applied for the MDCP in cooperation with The Recording Academy, and was awarded in August 2012.  In 2015 A2IM furthered their relationship with ITA by becoming a Strategic Partner.

A2IM’s MDCP award established and expanded trade missions for American independent music labels and created American pavilions at global industry trade shows.  Since the inception of the MDCP project, A2IM member companies have taken advantage of financial assistance to attend the world’s largest music industry trade shows and participate in trade missions in key markets that were identified in coordination with ITA.

MDCP award funds helped cover the travel and personnel costs needed to make these sales happen.  With the first ever government assistance of this kind for the music industry, these business relationships will continue to grow, supporting U.S artists and associated U.S. businesses for years to come.

The results have been extremely positive.  A2IM estimates that during the MDCP program, participating member firms increased their exports by a total of over $40 million across nearly 400 export transactions. Bob Frank Entertainment and Thirty Tigers are prime examples of A2IM members who were able to achieve export success through the program. These two companies participated in major trade shows, such as MIDEM in France and Canadian Music Week, as well as trade missions to strategic markets, including Brazil. Both of these small firms were able to garner distribution and licensing agreements at these events, resulting in over $1 million in estimated new international revenue for each firm. This is a big deal for small businesses.

In 2016, ITA’s Global Media & Entertainment Team, including staff from Marseille, New York  and Washington D.C, provided extensive business-to-business (B2B) matchmaking and trade services support for A2IM at MIDEM 2016, the premier global B2B market place and trade show for the music industry – which celebrated its 50th Anniversary this year.  There were over 200 U.S independent music firms represented in the A2IM Pavilion, with dozens of meetings facilitated during the conference. The team also provided services at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg and the Amsterdam Dance Event, both growing markets for the global music industry.

The American Association of Independent Music (“A2IM”) is the 501(C)(6) not-for-profit trade organization created to protect the rights, educate and promote commerce for the American Independent music label community. A2IM’s membership includes over 390 music labels of varying sizes and all musical genres across the country, plus more than 300 associated member companies that provide services to the music industry, representing the diversity of American music.

Click here for more information about A2IM’s Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) project.

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