Global recording revenues rise for first time in more than a decade

- 12 April 2013

The global music industry is on the road to recovery after a decade of decline, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (Ifpi).

Introducing Recording Industry in Numbers, the organisation’s annual report, Ifpi CEO Frances Moore noted that global revenues increased last year for the first time since 1999. ‘At an international level, there is a renewed sense of optimism,’ she said.

However, that optimism does not extend to the UK, the third-largest music market in the world: Britain recorded one of the biggest declines, down 6.1% with sales of $1.325bn (£835m), while the global total of $16.5bn was up 0.2% on 2011.

The report does not break down revenue figures by genre, but because Ms Moore cites downloads as a major force in the turnaround, the global trend is probably less marked in the classical sector.

‘In markets such as India, Sweden and the US, more than half our revenue is from digital channels,’ she said, adding: ‘Large emerging markets such as Brazil, India and Mexico have seen new services launch in recent years, and the growth rates of those countries in 2012 &#8210 9%, 22% and 8% respectively &#8210 reflects their impact.’

While downloads are the principal form of digital delivery, Ms Moore says Ifpi’s research shows the subscription model is firmly established. ‘Two years ago, there were eight million paying subscribers globally; today, there are more than 20 million.’

Research by Ipsos MediaCT across nine markets, also in the report, shows legal download services are gaining ascendancy over pirate sites. ‘To highlight one statistic among many, six in 10 internet users have used a licensed service in the last six months. Digital music is rapidly going mainstream.’ However, she stresses that a third of internet users globally still regularly access unlicensed sites.

Performance rights (up 9.4% at $943m) and synchronisation (2.1% higher at $337m) continued to advance. Physical formats are still the main revenue earner but their market share has declined from 74% in 2008 to 57% last year.

Annual sales figures from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) showed a 0.9% decline last year to $7.1bn, following a slight rise the previous year but in line with a drop from $7.8bn in 2009. Digital formats provided 59% of revenue in the US.

The dramatic change in music format trends is shown in the RIAA’s figures for the past 40 years. In 1973, LPs and EPs accounted for 61.8% of US sales, eight-track tape 24.2%, vinyl singles 9.4%, cassettes 3.8% and other tapes 0.8%.

Changes over the decades are depicted graphically at





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