After weathering decades of decline, the global recorded music industry saw its fourth consecutive year of revenue growth in 2018, according to the latest annual review from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). The IFPI reports that music sales from around the world topped $19.1 billion last year — finally rebounding enough to eclipse the $18.4 billion made in 2007.
The 2019 “State of the Industry” report, released Tuesday, finds that of the $19.1 billion earned in 2018, nearly half (47 percent, or $8.9 billion) came from ad-supported and subscription music-streaming services. Streaming revenues overall swelled 34 percent from 2017 to 2018, and paid/subscription streaming rose 33 percent. Physical formats like CDs, meanwhile, dipped 10 percent, and digital downloads fared even worse, tumbling 21 percent.
The consumption format trends are all in line with what’s being observed in the U.S. music market: shrinking physical and digital album sales, paired with a continued boom in streaming. On an international scale, some regions — North America, Latin America and Asia — are contributing more to industry regrowth than others, but the common thread among music fans in those countries is a tendency to tune in via music-streaming services. Because of streaming, digital sales of music (referring to paid streaming, free streaming and downloads all together) crossed the $10 billion mark for the first time ever.
“Record companies continue their investment in artists, people and innovation both in established markets and developing regions that are increasingly benefitting from being part of today’s global music landscape,” said Frances Moore, IFPI’s chief executive, in a press release accompanying the report. But she cautioned against too much celebration: “As music markets continue to develop and evolve, it is imperative that the appropriate legal and business infrastructure is in place to ensure that music is fairly valued, and that the revenues are returned to rights holders to support the next cycle of development,” Moore said, likely referring to recent spats in the music industry over topics such as digital copyright rules and songwriter royalty rates, which are expected to continue playing out over the course of the year.
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Per the report, music’s top 10 markets in 2018 were, in descending order: the U.S., Japan, the U.K., Germany, France, South Korea, China, Australia, Canada and Brazil. The top 10 global recording artists: Drake, BTS, Ed Sheeran, Post Malone, Eminem, Queen, Imagine Dragons, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars.