Music industry grows for first time since 1999

THE GLOBAL music industry has returned to growth for the first time since Boyzone and the Vengaboys topped the charts, according to figures released yesterday.

Worldwide revenues rose by 0.3 per cent in 2012 to $16.5bn (£10.9bn), driven by the continued success of legal download sites, booming use of streaming services such as Spotify, and expansion into new markets.

The last time the global music industry showed growth was 1999, when Britney Spears released Hit Me Baby One More Time and the likes of Manic Street Preachers and Belle & Sebastian won Brit awards. That year revenues peaked at $28.6bn.

“These are hard-won successes for an industry that has innovated, battled and transformed itself over a decade,” said Frances Moore, chief executive of industry body IFPI, who compiled the figures.

Digital revenues were the engine of growth, increasing nine per cent to $5.6bn and accounting for a third of total sales. These figures were boosted by the expansion of major online retailers into emerging markets, sometimes providing a legal download source for the first time.

In total more than 2.3bn single tracks were downloaded legally last year, along with 207m digital albums.

“At the beginning of the digital revolution it was a common theme to say digital is killing music,” said Sony Music’s Edgar Berger. “Well the reality is, digital is saving music. I absolutely believe that this marks the start of a global growth story. The industry has every reason to be optimistic about its future.”

Meanwhile, the number of people using streaming services – which offer unlimited access to music in return for a monthly fee – grew by 44 per cent to 20m users. Although the user base is small, this income is attractive to the industry because the revenue is more reliable. The report says streaming will account for a tenth of digital revenues in 2013.

But despite the music business’ optimism about its digital future, sales of music on physical formats still raised $9.4bn last year – around two-thirds of total income.