The one thing the music industry loves more than singing its own praises is listening to an entity like Wall Street do it. On Wednesday, Goldman Sachs issued an equity research report forecasting that the recorded music market will hit $45 billion by 2030, driven by 1.15 billion users paying for music-streaming subscriptions and 40 percent penetration in developed markets such as the U.S. — all of which are stats that make those in the business beam.
Goldman’s previous outlook on music, an already-glowing report in 2017 titled “Music in the Air,” forecasted the global recording industry pulling in $44 billion in 2030, as music-streaming services helped it rebound from two decades of slipping revenue. But this week’s report (titled “Streaming crescendo; raising our industry forecasts”) ups the prediction by $1 billion, thanks to “faster-than-expected paid streaming adoption” and “positive updates” from the major entities of Spotify, Warner Music and Universal Music. The investment bank has also revised its numbers for paid streaming, saying that subscriptions will generate $27.5 billion in 2030 as opposed to its previous estimate of $27.1 billion; it believes paying subscribers in emerging markets will also stand at 778 million in 2030 as opposed to the 530 million it thought previously.
But even though more people will pay for music, they’ll all pay less individually, Goldman says: The bank now expects the average revenue per user (or ARPU) to drop from $32 in 2018 to $24.60 in 2030, while it had previously predicted the number to stay around $32 per person for 2030. Why? Music-streaming platforms keep aggressively pushing discounted subscription plans to certain demographics such as families, as well as bundling them with other companies’ entertainment offers to attract new users. But Goldman says it believes “faster subscriber adoption at the expense of short-term ARPU trends is a long-term positive for all players in the ecosystem” that will drive down churn rates over time.
As for who will rule that streaming landscape, Goldman doesn’t expect dominance of one particular service. “We believe the market will remain competitive with no ‘winner-takes-all’ dynamics,” Goldman’s international research team, led by Lisa Yang, write in the report. The team predicts that while Spotify and Apple Music will remain industry leaders, their share will “erode over time” to 32 percent and 16 percent in 2030, respectively — down from the 2018 status quo of 38 percent and 20 percent — while global internet players such as Amazon, YouTube and Facebook rise from 10 percent to 14 percent in that same period. Goldman also forecasts that the China-based Tencent Music will see its share of global paid users to jump from 11 percent last year to 23 percent in 2030.
Goldman’s report falls in line with a recent music report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which reported total paid streaming users at 255 million for 2018 and officiated the global music business’s fourth consecutive year of sales growth.