Music industry celebrates fourth year of growth after ‘mourn-fest'

Global revenues are close to the level of 2006.

A music industry “mourn-fest” of plummeting revenues is being replaced by growth propelled by streaming.

Experts have called for fair treatment of artists as the market becomes increasingly dominated by online business.

The global music industry is celebrating a fourth year of growth as non-physical sales continue to dominate the market, according to a new report into 2018 sales.

Revenues have risen from a downward spiral which reached a low-point of £11 billion in 2014, after falling almost every year for more than a decade.

According to a report by the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the industry has clawed its way out of this trough and is now worth around £15 billion, close to the level of 2006.

Artists such as Ed Sheeran, Drake, and BTS recorded huge sales success in 2018.

Streaming now dominates half of the market, prompting calls to close the “value gap” and secure fair pay for artists online.

IFPI chief executive Frances Moore told journalists in London: “We all remember in previous years this used to be described as a ‘mourn-fest’, because we only had bad news.

Graham Norton Show – London
South Korean boyband BTS helped drive global sales (Tom Haines/PA)

“Four years starts to look like it’s a pattern, rather than just a one-off.

“What we have seen very clearly are the Latin American markets, the Asian and Australian markets are really on the rise.

“It is imperative that the appropriate legal and business infrastructure is in place to ensure that music is fairly valued.

“We continue to work for the respect of copyright around the world, and for resolution of the value gap by establishing a level playing field.”

She added that the EU Copyright Directive was a welcome way to “close the value gap” between the revenues of online platforms and the income of artists.

Global revenues for the music industry grew by 9.7% in 2018, with physical sales down 10% and paid streaming up 32.9%.

Revenues have grown from £11 billion in 2014, to £11.3 billion in 2015, £12.4 billion in 2016, £13.4 billion in 2017, and £15 billion last year.

Latin America grew the most in 2018, and the UK remains the third biggest music market behind the US and Japan. Revenues in Europe overall grew just 0.1%.

There are now 255 million paid subscription accounts, and streaming makes up 47% of global revenues, the highest it has ever been after rising each year since 2010. Physical sales have fallen each year during the same period.

Stu Bondell, of Sony Music, said record companies are still relevant in an online age, and welcomed the continued reversal of a prolonged downward trend.

He said: “As someone who has been in the industry for 33 years, you’re a lot happier in a growth industry than one in years of decline.

“It’s very exciting to be in an industry that’s had successive years of growth.”

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