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Streaming boom and emerging markets drive fourth year of growth for global recorded music industry

By | Published on Wednesday 3 April 2019


So, 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of growth for the global recorded music industry. The fourth year! Of growth! For the global recorded music industry! It’s better with exclamation marks isn’t it? That’s my editing skills in action there. Hey look at this. The fourth fucking year! Of fucking growth! For the fucking global recorded music industry! Better still right? I don’t know why. They just tell you on day three of editing school that exclamation marks and fucks make everything better. This, by the way, is the fucking IFPI stats pack report!

Of course we already knew that 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of growth for the global recorded music industry, but now the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry has done all the counting for all of the world and confirmed it in a glossy brochure. Worldwide revenues for the record industry were up 9.7% in 2018 so that total revenues checked in at $19.1 billion. Let’s have a fucking party!

The streaming boom is behind most of that growth. We knew that already too. Income from streaming services now accounts for nearly half of the record industry’s revenue at 47%. But its paid-for streaming that is really turning things round, it alone accounting for 37% of total income. So well done to those 255 million premium subscribers around the world. You did it! You transformed the global record industry’s fortunes and now everybody’s happy, happy.

You tedious fuckers! Reporting on the record industry was so much more fun when it was all doom and gloom and nothing’s working and piracy, piracy, piracy. Oh for the days of file-sharing this and three strikes that and how will labels ever be able to invest in all that new talent if we can’t fix the collapsing record industry? That’s all over now though. There’s no doom any more. And no gloom either. None whatsoever.

I mean, that whole streaming boom is entirely led by a very small number of mainly loss-making digital music providers with unproven business models which are increasingly flexing their muscles and might one day seek to cut the record companies entirely out of their supply chain while prioritising non-Anglo American music in markets outside of Europe and North America. But, like I say, no doom and no gloom, it’s all brilliant.

Don’t be thinking the record companies are getting all complacent and haemorrhaging all of that new cash on exorbitant executive bonuses, plush new offices and an endless supply of fruit and flowers though. Oh no. They are investing. Investing in artists. In new talent. In content. In content platforms. In new marketing strategies. In data. In the future. A glorious future! Of exorbitant executive bonuses, plush new offices and an endless supply of fruit and flowers. And I, for one, can’t wait.

But for now, some other interesting if unsurprising stats. Physical product income continues to slide, but is still 25% of the global market, mainly thanks to Japan where physical revenues actually went up last year. Monies from broadcast and public performance continue to rise, that being the third biggest revenue stream and still the side of the business no one ever wants to talk about. Meanwhile sync – despite rising 5.2% in 2018 – is still a tiny part of the recorded music sector (2%) and still the side of the business everybody wants to talk about.

Perhaps the most interesting – if again not entirely surprising – stats put out by IFPI yesterday relate to the relative performance of different markets. Latin America saw the most growth in 2018 at 16.8%, while Europe was pretty much static overall (albeit that figure being slightly affected by a one-off boost in performing rights income in Germany in 2017). Meanwhile – although US, Japan, UK, Germany and France remain the big five recorded music markets – China continues to shoot up the rankings and is now in seventh place.

So there you go. Stats galore. Smiles all round. No room for doom or gloom. Not even a mention of the bloody value gap. OK, one mention of the bloody value gap. But only in the context of the soon to be fully approved European Copyright Directive and how it’s going to close the bloody value gap. Onwards! Upwards! More fucking exclamation marks!

And now the customary quote from IFPI boss Frances Moore. “Last year represented the fourth consecutive year of growth, driven by great music from incredible artists in partnership with talented, passionate people in record companies around the world”, says she. “Record companies continue their investment in artists, people and innovation both in established markets and developing regions that are increasingly benefitting from being part of today’s global music landscape”.

Want a doom and gloom free PDF filled with IFPI counting, glorious pie charts, inspiring optimism, major label bragging and photos of pop stars? Then fucking click here!