New York | The recorded music industry has enjoyed its first significant growth since the dawn of the Internet age, as streaming led digital to overtake physical sales, a global trade body said today.
Recorded music revenue expanded by 3.2 percent in 2015 worldwide to $15 billion, fueled by an extraordinary growth in subscriptions to streaming services, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
The growth is the first uptick in the music industry at a more than marginal level since 1998, when sales grew 4.8 percent year-on-year. But the industry is still down by one-third since the late 1990s, when Internet service became mainstream in developed countries and listeners flocked to music sites, both legal and illicit.
The rapid growth of streaming — which allows unlimited, on-demand music online — led digital music to surpass sagging physical sales for the first time last year. The industry federation estimated that 68 million people around the world had digital subscriptions, compared with just eight million in 2010 when it first started keeping statistics.
Streaming revenue grew by 45.2 percent in the past year alone, nearly matching sales from digital downloads on iTunes and other sites. Yet the industry did not cast an entirely rosy picture, saying revenue was still far below potential. The value of music is still not being fully recognized.
Today, there is a real spirit of optimism across our industry, but we are a long way from declaring ‘mission accomplished’, Stu Bergen, the CEO for international and global commercial services at Warner Music Group, told reporters on a conference call.