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Recorded music revenues flat in 2014, as digital matches physical for the first time

By | Published on Wednesday 15 April 2015


After that very temporary uplift in 2012, the global record industry saw revenues slip slightly last year – by 0.4% – following the 3.9% decline in 2013. The slight fall came despite booming streaming revenues because, of course, the rapidly growing subscriptions sector is now compensating for declines in both CD and download sales.

Given the figures already released for various key markets, the worldwide stats were not surprising, and indeed the overall slippage was possibly less than expected. The other key trend widely expected and confirmed yesterday was that digital now matches CD sales income, with both accounting for 46% of the global recorded music sector’s revenue, the other 8% coming from sync and public performance licensing.

Some other bullets for stat fans…

• Digital revenues overall rose 6.9% to $6.9 billion.
• Subscription revenues were up 39% while download sales were down 8%.
• This means subscription services account for 23% of the digital market worldwide.
• The rest of digital goes: downloads (52%), ad-funded (9%), mobile (3%), other (9%).
• “Other Digital” now includes SoundExchange income in the US, by the way.
• Physical sales still dominate in France (57%), Germany (70%) and Japan (78%).
• Vinyl revenues were up 54.6% worldwide, accounting for 2% of overall income.
• Performing rights income was up 8.3% and accounts for 6% of total revenues.

And now a quote from IFPI chief Frances Moore: “The recorded music business has always led the way for creative industries in the digital world. That leadership continues today as the music industry’s digital revolution continues through new phases, driven by the consumer’s desire for access to, rather than ownership of, music. It is a reflection of how much we have adapted that digital revenues today are, for the first time, on a par with physical”.

And more: “The headline statistics of 2014 speak for themselves, with overall revenues still largely flat, down by 0.4%. Music companies are charting a path to sustainable year-on-year growth. That path was never going to be straight, but we are making great strides along it, embracing new models, licensing, investing and improving consumer choice”.