Global recorded music industry revenues topped $20bn last year – but streaming growth slowed

The global recorded music industry generated $20.2bn in wholesale revenues – that’s the money making its way back to labels and artists – in 2019.

This figure was up 8.2% on the prior year ($18.7bn), according to official industry data revealed in the latest IFPI Global Music Report today (May 4).

Bright spots for record companies in 2019 included a softening of physical music revenue declines – down by just 5.3% year-on-year to $4.4bn.

This physical fall was more than offset by growth in streaming formats (including video and audio), which generated $11.4bn last year, up 22.9% YoY.

Money generated by streaming accounted for more than half (56.1%) of all global recorded music revenues.

The number of paid streaming accounts globally rose to 341 million, up 33.5% year-on-year (i.e. up 86m from 255m in 2019).

Previous IFPI reports have suggested that the number of users of paid-for subscription services grew from 176m in 2017 to 255m in 2018 – a jump of 79m.

However, digging more into IFPI’s 2019 data shows – as long predicted – some early signs of caution for the record business.

The industry’s total worldwide annual streaming revenue haul ($11.4bn) in 2019 was up by $2.2bn on the same figure from 2018 ($9.2bn), which in turn was up by $2.7bn on 2017 ($6.5bn).

This tells us that annual growth in overall streaming revenues (across audio/video and ad-supported/paid) slowed in 2019, down by $500m on the prior year.

Growth in overall record industry revenues (across streaming, physical, download, sync etc.) also slowed year-on-year: in 2018, this figure was up by $1.7bn (to $18.7bn); in 2019, it was up by $1.5bn (to $20.2bn).

The IFPI hasn’t today delivered a specific paid streaming revenue figure to media, but we can figure it out: the org’s data shows that 42% of the $20.2bn industry total last year came from paid subscriptions – equating to circa $8.48bn.

Using this figure ($8.48bn), we can ascertain that the average paid music streaming subscriber globally in 2019 (341m) paid $24.87 a year, or $2.07 per month, for their account.

The industry’s global paid streaming revenue haul was up 24.1% year-on-year, says IFPI – suggesting that it grew from approximately $6.83bn in 2018 to $8.48bn in 2019.

We can therefore use this number to estimate that the average music streaming subscriber in 2018 ($6.83bn / 255m subs) was paying $26.78 a year, or $2.23 per month.

(Further YoY paid streaming analysis is rendered difficult as the IFPI has revised much of its historical annual data in its latest report – meaning we can’t just flick back to prior reports and make simple comparisons.)

Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, said: “The Global Music Report we issued today covers results for 2019 and reflects the successful work and investment of music creators – from record companies to artists and beyond. Importantly, the strong foundation we built over the past several years helped deliver growth in 2019.

“While the numbers we are reporting are a snapshot of the business last year, the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges unimaginable just months ago.

“In the face of a global tragedy, the music community has united behind efforts to support those affected. This is a critical and ongoing priority as our member record companies work to continue to support the careers of artists, musicians and employees around the world.”

As regards the money coming through the door, IFPI says that Latin America was the world’s fastest-growing region in percentage terms in 2019, up 18.9%.

Within LATAM, Brazil grew by 13.1%, Mexico by 17.1% and Argentina by 40.9%.

Europe, the world’s second-largest region, grew 7.2% – after being almost flat in 2018 – with UK (+7.2%), Germany (+5.1%), Italy (+8.2%) and Spain (+16.3%) all reporting strong growth.

The world’s biggest recorded music market in 2019 was the USA, followed by (in order) Japan, the UK, Germany, France, South Korea and China.

As previously reported, the biggest revenue-generating artist of the year, globally, was Taylor Swift (pictured).

The biggest album was 5×20 All the BEST!! 1999-2019 by Japan’s ARASHI, followed by Swift’s Lover.

The biggest single was Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy, followed by Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road.Music Business Worldwide

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