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Global music sales take big leap back

Posted on: Friday 1st of April 2022

IFPI Global Music Report coverThe International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has revealed that 2021 was a bumper year for recorded music. Its annual reported headline figures show a story of recovery and growth for the industry, not just from the pandemic but from a 20-year long trough that has marked the transition from physical media to online delivery. The 18.5% global growth in revenue — building on the 8% growth recorded in 2020, despite the worst of the pandemic’s effects taking their toll — stacks up to total surveyed revenues of around $26bn. That’s a figure that finally takes the total collected back above the high watermarks registered by the record industry on either side of the turn of the millennium.

While physical sales counted for virtually all of 1999’s bumper year, despite a 16% expansion in that market sector that area is now bringing in less than 1/5th of total money into the industry (still a handy $5bn) — however, it’s worth noting that it was the first time in 20 years that particular market sector has grown Y-o-Y, a phenomenon that partly driven by the figures being depressed by pandemic lockdowns in the previous survey period, one suspects.

Asia showed particularly notable growth in CD sales, though, with Vinyl continuing its revival – growing over 51%, following a 26% growth during 2020.

This year’s major growth was once again driven by a close-to-22% expansion in monies from paid-for streaming revenues, with the 523m users of subscription streaming services now providing 47% of that sector’s $16.9bn contribution (which now makes up 66% of the total). While only counting for around 4% of the total revenue amount, another large growth spurt came from Synchronisation — monies from the use of recordings in adverts, games, TV and films — which expanded its intake by 22%.

Unsurprisingly, the only sales sector not to show growth on the survey was ‘Downloads and Other Digital’, which shrank by 11%. A victim of the growth of streaming (or, as the IFPI describes it, the ‘Access Model’), revenues from permanent downloads fell by 15.3% to US$839.3 million and represented just 3.2% of the global market in 2021. Other digital formats experienced growth (+6.8 %) but represent only 1.1% of global revenues.

Geographically, the US, Japan and the UK headlined the biggest markets list — with all major markets and geographical areas showing growth Y-o-Y. The Middle-East and North Africa registered an eye-catching 35% upturn in revenues, while North America grew 22% and Europe 15%.

The Weeknd’s Save Your Tears topped the all-format singles list, while his Blinding Lights also featured on the chart. He was followed by The Kid Laroi and Justin Beiber’s STAY, with Beiber also appearing in sixth. Dua Lipa’s Levitating, BTS’ Butter and Olivia Rodrigo’s Driving Licence (she was also at eight, with Good 4 U).

Adele’s 30 topped all of the LP charts (with 4.6m physical Album Sales, 826k of which were on vinyl, to the general chagrin of any indie label owner we’ve come across this year). She was trailed by Rodrigo’s SOUR in the All-formats list, ABBA’s comeback Voyage, on the Album Sales chart (with 2.06m physical sales) and Harry Styles’ 2019 LP Fine Line on the Vinyl Albums Chart (379k).

Fleetwood Mac (Rumours), The Beatles (Abbey Road), Nirvana (Nevermind) and Pink Floyd (Dark Side) all appeared in the Vinyl top ten, each shifting over 250k copies of those classic LPs and — with combined sales for the four nearing 1.2m.

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