On Thursday 21 Mar, the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry, known better to most people as the IFPI, will release its annual mega-stats drop, in the shape of the £25,000-a-copy Global Music Report. As is traditional, this means a flood of country level stats being released by national record industry trade bodies ahead of the GMR being published. 

With a number of major music territories releasing stats over the past week or so, CMU has pulled together some key numbers for four markets: Germany, France, UK and Spain. We’ll have more analysis - and more numbers - over coming weeks as we dive into some of the key trends and key drivers in Europe and beyond.

For now, the TLDR is this: all four countries saw top line increase in revenues; the physical market in Germany is still huge; France is lagging behind its neighbours on subscription streaming adoption; UK wholesale streaming revenues are worth £962 million to the record industry while retail streaming revenues topped £1866 million, with Germany’s retail streams hitting an estimated €1652 million.

Like almost everything in the music business, there’s a gotcha. If you don’t understand what you’re looking at, you might look at two numbers that appear similar, but are actually calculated in a completely different way. 

Slightly confusingly, different trade bodies publish figures derived from different pots of money - consumer sales or wholesale revenues for the industry. The first number is normally going to be bigger, because it includes the full price of a CD, vinyl LP or streaming subscription, inclusive of tax, but also, critically, the retailer’s share and publishers’ share. 

So this means that - at a basic level for a single streaming subscription - retail revenue will be the full £10.99 a month, while wholesale streaming revenues are just what (in the case of sound recordings) the record industry gets - excluding VAT, the streaming platform’s share, and the publishing industry’s share.

So when UK entertainment retail trade body ERA released its recent 2024 Yearbook, which shows entertainment retail and consumption stats for the UK, the revenue figures in there are consumer retail, accounted at the point of sale. 

So, for example, where ERA reports total retail sales of £2219.9 million, this is what consumers paid at the checkout, and explicitly includes VAT. German record industry trade group BVMI uses the same method for its figures, with its topline coming in at €2208 million, a sum which includes VAT. Promusicae Spain uses the same method for its headline figure of €520 million in music revenues for 2023. 

It’s worth noting that in countries like the US where taxes are applied at a local level, similar figures for retail may or may not include tax, which just makes everything more confusing. 

However, other bodies - notably the UK’s BPI and France’s SNEP - report record industry wholesale numbers. This is the amount of revenue that record labels and other sound recording rightsholders have made - and is significantly different from the retail value, because it excludes not only VAT, but also excludes any revenues paid to publishers and songwriters, or any money kept by DSPs or retailers. 

Even more confusingly, this wholesale figure will generally also include international revenues - so, for example, if a UK-based record label’s music is streamed in the USA, the revenues that flow through the streaming platform in the US will ultimately end up being paid to the label in the UK, and this figure would be included in that wholesale revenue figure. More simply, retail figures are wholly domestic, while wholesale figures include export.

With that all cleared up, let’s take a look at some of those figures in more detail - bearing in mind that key difference.

Headline numbers look like this. Headline music revenues in 2023 were:

£/€ million

  • 452.5/520 (Spain, retail)
  • 1921.3/2208 (Germany, retail)
  • 2220/2551 (UK, retail)
  • 1427/1639 (UK, wholesale)
  • 842/968 (France, wholesale)

In Germany (population 84.7 million) the physical market appears to be surprisingly huge: at retail values, it’s shifting €409 million in CDs and vinyl, compared to the UK (population 67.7 million) €357.4 million (£311 million). Compare this to Spain (population 48.1 million) where physical music retail brings in just €62.1 million each year. 

However, if you look at this as a per head spend, then the UK leads with an averaged per-head spend of €5.28 vs Germany’s €4.83. Spain is far lower, with just €1.29 spent per head on physical music.

Apply the same calculation to streaming and you get some interesting results. BVMI says Germany’s total retail music streaming value is 74.8% of total revenues, which comes out as €1651.6 million.

In the UK, BPI and ERA estimate the comparable number to be €2144.6 million (£1866.2 million)

In Spain, the total value of retail audio streaming as reported by Promusicae is €398.6 million, with a further €68.7 million for video streaming. 

Again, looking at these against population sizes gives some interesting results. Although Germany has a far bigger population than the UK - 25% larger - its total retail streaming revenues are just 77% of the UK’s.

At a per head of population level, the UK is spending €31.68 each year for every single adult and child, while Germany is spending just €19.50. Spain, with its significantly smaller population, is significantly lower at just €8.29 annual spend on streaming.

However, if you throw another number into the equation, you get a different picture of this again: Germany’s average income is €4105 per month (€49,260 annually), compared to Spain’s average of €2250 (€27,000 annually).

If you take that average annual spend and compare it to income, then Germany is spending 0.04% of average annual income on streaming, while Spain spends 0.03%. So although Spain is generating far less revenue than Germany, and has just 42.5% of the per head spend, when compared to average earnings, Spain is spending 75% of Germany as a proportion of income. 

Look out for our deeper analysis of these numbers next week, but for now, you might want to check out the various reports yourself.

Get the various stats and reports here:

BVMI 2023 Germany music retail stats

ERA 2023 UK entertainment retail stats 

Promusicae 2023 Spanish music retail stats

BPI 2023 UK record industry wholesale stats

SNEP 2023 French record industry wholesale stats

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