France is ‘struggling’ to reach the paid subscription levels of other major music markets. Is TikTok partly to blame?

French rapper OrelSan claimed the biggest-selling album in France last year

France, the world’s fifth biggest music market, generated recorded music revenues of €920 million (USD $967m) in 2022, according to local trade body SNEP.

However, in spite of marking the market’s sixth consecutive year of growth, 2022 saw a slowdown in the margin of that growth, with the market’s revenues up by just 6.4% YoY.

In the prior year, 2021, recorded music revenues in France grew 14.3% YoY.

Paid subscription-based streaming, which generated revenues of 426 million ($448m) in 2022, was France’s main driver of recorded music revenue last year, growing 11% YoY.

Streaming, from both ad-supported and paid subscription services, generated revenues €486 million ($511m) in France in 2022, up 13.5% YoY.

Meanwhile, at the close of 2022, according to SNEP, there were 11 million paying subscription accounts in France, up by +1.0 million YoY from 10 million in 2021. (Those accounts were shared by 16 million users, via family plans etc.)

This YoY growth in the number of subscription accounts in France slowed compared to 2021, when the number of paid subscription accounts grew by +1.3 million vs. 2020.

Indeed, the 16 million users of premium subscription accounts in France last year equated to around a quarter of the country’s estimated total population (≈66 million).

These figures have clearly caused concern at the major record companies – SNEP’s largest members – and you can see why: According to IFPI‘s latest Global Music Report, France was the world’s fifth biggest recorded music market in 2021, behind the USA (1), Japan (2), the UK (3), and Germany (4).

SNEP stated in its annual update today: “Regardless of age group, subscription-based streaming is struggling to reach the levels of the other major music markets in France.

“Platforms and [labels] alike have a major challenge on their hands: to convince consumers, young and old, to make the change to subscription-based services.”

So what’s to blame for subscription streaming’s “struggle” to keep growing in France?

One candidate is TikTok – and its soaring levels of popularity amongst young consumers in the territory.

“Record companies are multiplying musical experiences and sources of income, adjusting their strategies… [including] redefining the role of TikTok, whose massive use diverts consumers from subscription-based services, the drivers of today’s music business model.”

Alexandre Lasch, SNEP

Citing an IFPI consumer study from 2022, SNEP reports that while 77% of people surveyed say that they discover new music via TikTok, 45% of young people in France, between the ages of 16 and 24 years of age, “claim to spend more time on TikTok than on online music services“.

SNEP Managing Director, Alexandre Lasch, in a statement accompanying the new annual report, said that TikTok’s “massive use diverts consumers from subscription-based services, the drivers of today’s music business model”.

And as SNEP highlights France’s challenge to convince more music consumers to pay for music subscriptions, it notes in its report that TikTok and short-form videos “have re-shuffled the deck in relation to music streaming”.

Lasch’s comments and SNEP’s report on France’s “struggling” subscription streaming growth arrive amid calls from some in the music industry for TikTok to pay more to righsholders for the use of their music on its platform.

Many in the music industry argue that TikTokwhich has over 1 billion global monthly active users, is growing off the back of music’s popularity on its platform.

News of the possibility that TikTok is “diverting consumers” from properly monetized music on subscription platforms like Spotify or Apple Music in one of the world’s largest recorded music markets will only strengthen calls for TikTok’s royalty payout model to change.

The major record companies will likely be watching the developments in France very closely as they enter their next round of negotiations with the ByteDance-owned video platform.

“Record companies are multiplying musical experiences and sources of income, adjusting their strategies to a constantly renewing playing field.”

Alexandre Lasch, SNEP

In his full statement, SNEP Managing Director Alexandre Lasch, said: “Record companies are multiplying musical experiences and sources of income, adjusting their strategies to a constantly renewing playing field: curbing the stream manipulation that distorts the rules of the game; redefining the role of TikTok, whose massive use diverts consumers from subscription-based services, the drivers of today’s music business model; integrating the numerous applications of artificial intelligence that are already influencing the way music is being made and listened to.”


TikTok issued a statement in response on Wednesday, March 22, arguing that it is unequivocally not the reason behind France’s “struggling” subscription growth.

Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music at TikTok, told MBW: “There is no evidence to suggest TikTok is diverting music fans away from subscription streaming services” in the territory.

He added: “Subscriptions are still growing [in France], albeit at a slower rate in more mature music markets. The TikTok community is filled with passionate music fans who are engaging with artists of all genres and from around the World.

“TikTok drives those fans to streaming services on a daily basis as fans seek out the full track, propelling sounds to even bigger audiences and commercial success. At TikTok we are currently working with our industry partners to optimize a music experience where fans discover on TikTok and consume on music subscription services.”

Obermann continued: “Industry bodies have reported that, even during a global slowdown in the economy, France is actually outperforming other major music markets in terms of percentage growth. We’re proud of our record supporting music in France and the many French music creators who have chosen to share their talent and creativity with our global community.”

A slide in SNEP’s annual report noting that TikTok has “reshuffled the deck in relation to music listening”

Elsewhere in SNEP’s year-end report, it is revealed that, like in other mature music markets, sales of vinyl records continue to grow, reaching 5.4 million units sold in 2022, generating revenues of €89 million for the French recorded music market.

That €89 million represented growth of 12.65% YoY, which was significantly lower than the YoY growth seen in the prior year (+54.9%).

Elsewhere, SNEP’s report highlights the success of home-grown music in the market in 2022, noting that ‘French Music Productions’ made up 77% of the Top 200 best-selling albums last year.

Meanwhile, France-based artists accounted for 16 of the Top 20 most listened-to and most-purchased artists in France in 2022.

France’s annual recorded music revenue results arrive in the same week that its neighboring country, Spain publishes its equivalent numbers.

According to Spain’s recorded music industry org, Pro Musicae, the number of paid subscriptions in the Spanish market grew nearly twice as fast as they did in France last year on a percentage basis – up 18% YoY to 5.2 million.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the world’s second-largest recorded music market, revenues from subscription streaming in 2022 reached 75.62 billion yen, which converts to USD $575 million at annual average exchange rates (as per the IRS), and represents revenue growth of 19% YoY via paid-for music services like Spotify and Apple Music.

  • All EUR-USD conversions in this story have been made at the average annual rate as provided by the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS)

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