Global recording industry celebrates biggest-ever year of growth

Streaming was hailed as the main driver for the continual growth over the last seven years.

Naomi Clarke
Wednesday 23 March 2022 08:53 GMT
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Louise Thomas

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The worldwide recording industry celebrated its biggest-ever year of growth last year since official reporting began, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has said.

Subscription streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music were credited as the driving force behind the 18.5 per cent growth in the global recorded music market.

This is the seventh consecutive year of growth and a notable increase from the 7.2 per cent rise in 2020.

According to figures released by the IFPI in its annual global music report, revenues totalled 25.9 billion US dollars (£19.6 billion) in 2021.

Last year marked the return of global superstar Adele, who released her fourth studio album, 30, as well as blockbuster releases from the likes of Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Billie Eilish.

The UK music market has specifically seen revenue rise by 13.2 per cent – an increase from 2020’s 3.8 per cent uplift.

In a press conference announcing the report, IFPI chief executive Frances Moore stated there was “no doubt” that paid subscription streaming was the driving force behind the growth as it was a positive increase in every country.

Taylor Swift was one of the biggest-selling artists of 2021
Taylor Swift was one of the biggest-selling artists of 2021 (Getty Images)

Dennis Kooker, president of global digital business and US sales at Sony Music Entertainment, said: “Absolutely, that’s been the core of what we’ve seen as the growth story for the industry of the last seven years.

“I also think it was unique in 2021, we’re coming from a post-Covid type of environment that impacted other aspects of the recorded music business in a negative way.

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“So, we’re seeing a recovery in some of those parts of the business. And you see physical business growing at over 16 per cent and a piece of that is a story about vinyl and physical growth, but it’s also recovery from the prior year.”

The industry body stated that by the end of 2021, there were 523 million users of paid subscription accounts which helped increase the streaming revenues by 21.9 per cent to $12.3bn (£9.3bn).

Total streaming figures, including advertising-supported streaming, grew by 24.3 per cent to reach $16.9bn (£12.8bn), or 65.0 per cent of total global recorded music revenues.

Growth was also supported by physical formats such as CD and vinyl, which had an uptick of 16.1 per cent, coinciding with the reopening of record stores and other retailers after the lifting of lockdowns across the world.

Performance rights – money earned when a song is played in public – also saw an increase of four per cent as the music industry begins to recover from the pandemic.

Moore added: “Around the world, record companies are engaging at a very local level, to support music cultures and bring on the development of emerging music ecosystems – championing local music and creating the opportunities for it to reach a global audience.

“As more markets mature, they join with and contribute to the rich, globally interconnected music world.

“Consequently, today’s music market is the most competitive in memory. Fans are enjoying more music than ever and in so many different and new ways. This creates enormous opportunities for artists.

“Those who choose to partner with a record company do so to benefit from the support of agile, highly responsive global teams of experts dedicated to helping them achieve creative and commercial success and build their long-term careers.

“As technologies and the online environment continue to evolve and expand, so too do the creative opportunities to share music experiences.

“From the metaverse, to in-game content, record companies have invested in the people and the technologies to deliver new, highly interactive experiences – adding to the evolving ways for artists to make connections with their fans.”

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