×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

As the Music Industry Gathers at MIDEM, a Look at Who’s Leading in International

International successes like “Despacito” — No. 1 in 47 countries! — prove that today’s music business knows no borders.

If there were a trophy for head-scratcher of the year, it would have to go to the Grammys for not giving Record or Song of the Year to “Despacito.” Nearly any grade-schooler or grandma would avow this was the hit of 2017, even if they couldn’t necessariily cite the stats about the Luis Fonsi track (in versions with or without guests Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber), which picked up 7.5 billion streams and topped the charts in 47 nations — most of those, obviously, countries where Spanish is not the primary language. It was proof that, although pop may never experience anything exactly akin to the British Invasion again, we’re clearly due for a lot of micro-takeovers. And in 2017, what could have felt more like poetic justice than Puerto Rico musically annexing the world?

Even without a “Despacito” to hammer the point home, it’s clear that recorded music is an exciting import/export business these days. And it’s not even subject to any politicized trade wars… so far. Which is not to say that market conditions are the same in every territory; some countries are far better poised to make the full leap into a monetized-streaming future than others. But the entire global music industry is feeling tenderly and nervously bullish, as indicated by a recent report from the IFPI — which represents 1,300 member companies in 59 global markets — revealing that recorded music around the world ballooned by 8.1% in 2017, one of the best growth rates in the trade organization’s 20 years of tracking.

The news everywhere is much the same as in America: Streaming, both on the paid- and free-tier levels, is way up, and everything else (except the niche market of LPs) continues to sink, digital downloads included. Revenues totaled $17.3 billion for the year, and this marked the first time that more than half the tally (54%, to be exact) came from the digital realm. Streaming revenues had a 41.1% gain and became the single-biggest source of income for the first time, which means that citizens of the globe are listening to more music than ever, even if they’re paying much less for the privilege than they were in 1999, the year before music went into a 13-year death spiral that finally switched back to uptick status three years ago.

A look at the top 10 markets points out some sharp contrasts in consumption. After the U.S., the second-biggest country for recorded music is Japan, where they’re still holding onto their CDs, more than anywhere else; physical product accounts for 72% of revenue there. They still like those shiny discs as well in the No. 3 nation, Germany, where physical product accounts for 43% of revenue. (Worldwide, the hard-copy figure is down to 30%.) China, the 10th biggest market for recorded music, has its own notorious problems with adoption of streaming models, largely due to copyright issues, though there’s a belief that a tipping point is in sight, between increased governmental attention to piracy and rights holders getting more inventive about making paid options even more attractive than free — the same hurdle that every other country has faced, if on a less severe scale.

In the top 10 global music markets, there’s only one Latin American country, Brazil, No. 9. But the region as a whole is where the action is when it comes to graph charts that encouragingly resemble the Andes. Latin America saw a revenue increase of 17.7% in 2017, higher than any other region — thanks to a 48.9% rise in streaming cash, more than making up for the 41.5% physical product decline. That whopping leap outshines the 12.8% increase for North America, which is still nothing to shake a stick at, and more modest 4.3% growth rate for Europe.

Those numbers counter any notion that “Despacito” might be a one-track phenomenon; the IFPI report points out that Venezuelan singer Danny Ocean’s “Me Rehuso” broke a Spotify record by becoming the longest-running song in their global top 50. With an English-language but Latin-leaning song like Camila Cabello’s “Havana” becoming the most ubiquitous single since “Despacito,” there may yet be a huge rush on U.S. borders… from record companies rushing south.

As the international music community gathers for Midem in Cannes June 5-8, Variety recognizes the true game-changers in a new world order. See who made our inaugural International Music Industry Leaders list here.

More Music

  • soulcycle

    SoulCycle to Launch Station on SiriusXM, Bring Playlists to Pandora (EXCLUSIVE)

    SoulCycle devotees will soon be able to listen to their favorite spinning soundtrack all day: SiriusXM is getting a dedicated SoulCycle Radio station this summer, and the two companies will also bring playlists from select SoulCycle instructors to Pandora. SoulCycle Radio is said to feature music curated by SoulCycle instructors, as well as inspirational messages [...]

  • Songs for Screens: Eric Church Teams

    Songs for Screens: How Eric Church Teamed With Ram Trucks — and Five Tons of Vinyl — for ‘Solid’ Campaign

    Country star Eric Church has long used his new music to reward his loyal fans, from surprise releasing 2015’s “Mr. Misunderstood” album as a direct fan-club exclusive to impromptu meet-and-greets before his hometown show in Greensboro, North Carolina. So when Church was prepping the April vinyl release of 2018’s critically acclaimed “Desperate Man,” the singer [...]

  • Jenni Rivera Biopic

    Authorized Jenni Rivera Biopic in the Works

    An authorized biopic of the late singer Jenni Rivera is in the works, seven years after she died in a plane crash at the age of 43. The life rights deal was announced Tuesday with an agreement between Jenni Rivera Enterprises and producers Javier Chapa and Simon Wise of Mucho Mas Media and Donald De [...]

  • Toronto Raptors fans wait for the

    Drake Turns Raptors' Celebration Into a Million-Person Hugfest

    Drake chugged a can of beer that was tossed to him, did interviews, and signed merch along the Toronto Raptors victory parade route Monday, but when the NBA champions arrived at Nathan Phillips Square hours later — the procession’s final destination, where an estimated million people had gathered on the grounds and outskirts —  the [...]

  • Tencent Music presentation at Shanghai

    Shanghai: Tencent Proposes Alliance of Music and Film

    All tech companies strive to be ubiquitous. Within China, behemoth Tencent is a clear leader of the pack. From the company’s “pan entertainment strategy” in 2012 to its 2018 equivalent “neo-creativity strategy,” Tencent keeps unveiling new master plans, each time with more in-house platforms and business approaches involved. On the margins of the Shanghai International [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content