With the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy, any look back at 2019 financial performance feels like an exercise in nostalgia, but the data released by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry on Monday shows that the streaming boom’s impact on recorded-music revenues was already starting to level off.
For 2019, total revenues for the global recorded-music business grew by 8.2% to $20.2 billion, with streaming revenue growing 22.9% to $11.4 billion — accounting for more than half of total revenue for the first time, at 56%. Physical sales continued their long decline, but at a slower rate — 5.3% — than in 2018.
The growth was powered by a 24.1% increase in paid subscription streaming with nearly all markets reporting growth. There were 341 million users of paid streaming services at the end of 2019 — up 33.5% — with paid streaming accounting for 42% of total recorded music revenue.
However, as noted by Music Business Worldwide, streaming revenue was up $2.2 billion over 2018 (from $9.2 billion to $11.4 billion), while the previous year saw a $2.7 billion jump (from $6.5 billion to $9.2 billion) — a $500 million drop.
Growth in overall revenues also slowed from $1.7 billion in 2018 to $1.5 billion in 2019.
Thus, even as estimates of the value of the global music industry soared over the past three years — with the world’s largest music company, Universal Music, being valued at $33 billion as part of its sale of 10% to Tencent last year — the streaming-powered surge had begun to cool off, even as the major labels expanded into newer markets in Asia and Africa. It seems that cooldown will inevitably continue, even though, as Spotify noted in its recent earnings report, streaming and recorded music are less susceptible to the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the live-entertainment business.
“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,” said Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, in a statement accompanying the report.
“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.”
2019 Regional Highlights, per IFPI, include:
For the fifth consecutive year, Latin America was the fastest-growing region (+18.9%) with its three largest markets growing strongly: Brazil (+13.1%); Mexico (+17.1%); and Argentina (+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%) reporting strong growth.
Asia saw overall growth of 3.4%, a slower rate of growth than 2018, but this was largely due to Japan (-0.9%), which saw a decline in physical sales (-4.8%), its dominant format. Elsewhere in the region, South Korea, China and India all experienced strong growth, (8.2% 16.0% and 18.7% respectively).
Australasia grew by 7.1% with overall digital revenues rising 11.6% and physical format revenues falling 20.4%. Australia, a top 10 market, recorded growth of 6.0% with neighbouring New Zealand posting an increase of 13.7%.
US & Canada grew by 10.4%, remaining the largest region for recorded music revenues, accounting for 39.1% of the global market. The US grew by 10.5%, its fifth consecutive year of growth. Canada, which was largely flat the prior year, increased by 8.1%.