The fate of the music industry has hung in the balance since the rise of online piracy began to eat into record sales revenues in the Napster days. After 15 years of decline, the industry has been growing for two years running, according to a new survey by International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
The IFPI report shows 2016’s £12.2 million of revenue as a tipping point, and suggests that the mass adoption of streaming services may have been a factor in this recovery. The report also attributes the industry’s growth to record labels’ ongoing investment in artists and digital platforms.
Several top music executives spoke to the Guardian about the report. Warner Music CEO Stu Bergen was cautious, saying “We’re no longer running up a down escalator, but that doesn’t mean we can relax.” Despite the two years of recovery, he still sees the industry as “vulnerable”.
Despite the increased contributions of streaming services to the music economy, Universal’s Michael Nash warned that the “value gap”, in which some services pay very little in royalties, is still a danger to the industry that has to be addressed if it is going to keep growing.
There’s good news for physical format fans, though. Though physical revenue overall declined for another year, physical sales now make up 70% of music revenues in France, Germany and Japan. This stresses the importance of physical releases for anyone trying to conquer the European or Asian markets.