Music soothes pandemic blues, sales hit high note

Turn on, tune in and stay at home. That is what millions of music fans did in 2020, with a rise in subscription streaming leading global recorded music revenue growth of 7,4%.

The market reported total revenues of US$21,6 billion, marking its sixth consecutive year of growth, industry trade body the IFPI said in its Global Music Report this week.

The year’s top five best-selling artists were K-pop stars BTS, songstress Taylor Swift, rapper Drake, singer The Weeknd and teen sensation Billie Eilish.

“As the world contends with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are reminded of the enduring power of music to console, heal and lift our spirits,” IFPI chief executive Frances Moore said.

Total streaming, including both paid subscription and advertising-supported, rose 19,9% to US$13,4 billion, accounting for 62,1% of total global recorded music revenues, IFPI said.

Paid subscription streaming revenues rose by 18,5% and there were 443 million users of paid subscription accounts at the end of 2020, the IFPI said.

The streaming figures compared to a decline in physical format revenues, which fell by 4,7%.

And with concerts and festivals cancelled as countries went into lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus, revenues from performance rights dropped 10,1%.

“With so much of the world in lockdown and live music shut down, in nearly every corner of the globe most fans enjoyed music via streaming,” Moore said.

The IFPI said record companies had supported artists in making music despite the difficult circumstances.

Latin America remained the fastest-growing region, with recorded music revenues rising 15,9%, followed by Asia with growth of 9,5% and Africa and the Middle East with 8,4%.

The United States and Canada region grew by 7,4% in 2020, while Europe saw revenues rise by 3,5%. In Britain, recorded music revenues rose to their highest since 2006, up 3,8% to 1,118 billion pounds (US$1,54 billion), the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said. Streaming revenues, up 15,4%, led the growth, while physical revenues fell 2,6%, with online sales cushioning the impact of lockdowns.

Online campaigns helped drive vinyl sales in Britain, their highest total since 1989, the BPI said. — Reuters