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IFPI confirms recorded music market grew 8.2% in 2019

By | Published on Tuesday 5 May 2020


The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry yesterday confirmed that 2019 was another year of growth for the global record industry thanks to the ongoing streaming boom. We already knew that, of course, but now we have stats. Global stats! And who doesn’t love global stats? No one. I checked. Everyone loves global stats. Everyone!

I mean, look at this: a 22.9% increase in streaming revenues last year resulted in an 8.2% increase in total recorded music revenues which translates into $20.2 billion of cold hard cash for the wider record industry. There you go, some global stats. Love it!

As expected, streaming now accounts for more than half of total recorded music revenues. IFPI’s ‘Global Music Report’ confirms that 56.1% of the monies that came into the record industry worldwide last year were from the big bad streaming services. Paid-for streaming brings in three times more than free streaming, with the premium services generating 42% of total monies and the free ad-funded platforms just over 14%.

As for the record industry’s other revenue streams, physical still accounted for 21.6% of income worldwide last year, though a handful of key markets still skew that figure a little.

Downloads were down loads again, which is good news, because that gag never gets old. Download stores now account for 7.2% of money. Sync is bringing in about 2.4% of the cash. And the money from broadcast and public performance that comes in via the collective licensing system is 12.6% of revenue.

Interestingly – and somewhat surprisingly – that latter revenue stream, ie public performance, which has been quietly and steadily growing for some time now, was down 3.6% last year. Though, IFPI says, that’s mainly because of “one-off settlements in 2018 which inflated the prior year’s revenues”. Take those out and this less talked about but increasingly important revenue stream continues to grow. Or at least, it was continuing to grow.

Public performance is one area where the COVID-19 shutdown could negatively impact on the record industry, given many bars and restaurants who pay royalties into the record industry’s collecting societies are currently closed. And pessimists reckon a significant portion may never reopen. Plus the radio sector – also included in this category – has seen its ad revenues slump, and it’s those revenues that the record industry usually shares in.

The IFPI itself actually kickstarts its whole ‘Global Music Report’ – launched this year without the usual fanfare – by noting how much the world has changed since the time period the stats in this report relate too, aka 2019.

Bragging about the record industry’s return to the good times seems inappropriate in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. All the more so given the crisis that pandemic has caused in the wider music community has reignited the debate over whether labels keep far too much of the money handed over by the streaming services each month, and the accompanying argument that more should be allocated to artists and songwriters.

And while the record industry is more immune to the impact of COVID-19 than most of other strands of the wider music business – chiefly because of the way the premium streaming business model works – that doesn’t mean it’s not being hit at all. Physical sales and any revenue streams linked to advertising will be negatively affected, in addition to public performance money.

In her introduction to the report, IFPI boss Frances Moore notes: “By its very nature, IFPI’s annual ‘Global Music Report’ is retrospective. Featuring our uniquely global charts, financial results and reports on the people behind the music, it reviews the state of the recorded music sector for the prior year. As such, it was originally drafted prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic”.

“The document you are reading shows the results of the successful work and investment of record companies and their artists”, she goes on. “Today, as we issue the report, the world faces a pandemic that presents challenges unimaginable just months ago. In the face of this global tragedy, the music community has united behind efforts to support those affected by COVID-19. This is a critical and ongoing priority as our member record companies work to continue to support the careers of artists, musicians and employees around the world”.

She concludes: “It has been heartening to see how music has helped once again to unite, inspire and heal. We see that music’s timeless power, like the resilient strength of humanity itself, is a light even through difficult times”.

But I lured you into this article with the promise of stats, not sombre reflections on the COVID-19 crisis. So here, have some more stats.

Regions wise, Latin America is still seeing the fastest rate of growth, with revenues up 18.9% last year, in part helped by a massive 40.9% growth in Argentina, one of the region’s big three markets. The combined markets of the US and Canada were up 10.4%, while Europe saw increases of 7.1%. Which might seem rubbish compared to Latin America, but given the European record industry saw all most no growth in 2018, that’s pretty good going.

As for the ten biggest recorded music markets overall, they remained unchanged in 2019, although the order in which they appear in the top ten list did alter a little. So the biggest ten markets – from biggest biggest to smallest biggest – go: US, Japan, UK, Germany, France, South Korea, China, Canada, Australia and Brazil. Lovely stuff.

And that, I think, is enough stats for now. In normal times the official summary of the IFPI’s latest ‘Global Music Report’ would be the usual “woo, everything’s great, well done labels, but don’t forget about safe harbour and stream-ripping, boo to them”.

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the main takeaway from the IFPI’s latest stats pack is the same as the takeaway from every other set of stats you’ve seen in recent weeks. “Fuck knows”. Have a good day everybody!