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Streaming Drives Global Revenues Up for Fifth Straight Year

Streaming accounted for more than half of global recorded music revenue in 2019, according to the IFPI’s newly released annual Global Music Report.

The IFPI recently released its annual Global Music Report.
The IFPI recently released its annual Global Music Report.

London, UK (May 6, 2020)—Streaming accounted for more than half of global recorded music revenue in 2019, according to IFPI’s newly released annual Global Music Report, driving total revenues to a fifth consecutive year of growth.

IFPI reports that total revenues for the global recorded music market grew by 8.2% for the year 2019 to $20.2 billion. Streaming revenue grew by 22.9% to $11.4 billion, accounting for more than half — 56.1% of the global total — for the first time ever. Revenue from physical sales continued to fall, declining by 5.3% over the year, but were more than offset by the upward trend in streaming.

A 24.1% increase in paid subscriptions across nearly all markets drove the growth in streaming, according to the report. By the end of 2019 there were a reported 341 million users of paid streaming services, an increase of 33.5% over the previous year. Paid streaming accounted for 42% of total recorded music revenue.

Music Streaming is Popular, But So is Stream Ripping

Download revenues, which now account for only 5.9% of global music sales, fell 15%. CD and vinyl sales brought in $4.4 billion in revenue, or 22% of the global total. Sales of vinyl were up 5% and now account for over 16% of total physical format revenues.

Regionally, North America grew by 10.4% to retain its title as the largest region for recorded music revenues, accounting for 39.1% of the global market. The US reported its fifth consecutive year of growth, with revenues increasing 10.5%. Canada emerged from the doldrums of 2018 to report an increase of 8.1%.

The world’s second-largest region, Europe, also largely flat in 2018, grew 7.2%. The strongest showing came from the UK (+7.2%), Germany (+5.1%), Italy (+8.2%) and Spain, which reported a particularly strong 16.3% growth.

Latin America was the fastest-growing region, also for the fifth straight year, posting an 18.9% increase in revenues. The region’s three largest markets reported significant gains. Brazil’s revenues were up 13.1% over the previous year, Mexico reported an increase of 17.1% and Argentina grew 40.9%.

Japanese boy band Arashi’s 20th anniversary release, 5×20 All the BEST!! 1999-2019, was the best-selling album of the year worldwide with sales of 3.3 million, followed by Taylor Swift’s Lover with 3.2 million copies sold. In third place was BTS’ Map of the Soul: Persona with sales of 2.5 million.

Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” took the title for the year’s best-selling digital single, racking up 19.5 million global converted track equivalents. Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” was second with 18.4 million units sold. Shawn Medes and Camila Cabello’s “Senorita,” with 16.1 million track equivalents, was third.

In March, IFPI named Taylor Swift the world’s best-selling recording artist of 2019. She previously won the award in 2014. Lover, her seventh studio album, released in August 2019, debuted at number one in more than 10 countries and reached three million album-equivalent sales worldwide by the end of its first week of release.

It’s unlikely that 2020 will see revenue growth continue at the same pace as 2019 in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, IFPI’s report, due in March, was apparently delayed by the Covid-19 outbreak. As Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, comments, “While the numbers we are reporting are a snapshot of the business last year, the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges unimaginable just months ago.”