A 2014 global music report has been released by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry). For the first time, Digital revenue was the same as Physical (CD’s and vinyl) sales with each having a 46% share. Yes, digital sales and physical sales were both about $6.9 billion USD in 2014.
Revenues from music subscription services grew by 39% and has reached 41 million paying subscribers, up from 8 million in 2010. In spite of the growth in streaming, downloads still account for slightly more than half (52%) of digital revenue. Downloading is down 8% from 2013 while streaming revenues are increasing to make up the difference.
Many artists, of large and small stature, continue to complain about the small amounts they receive from streaming. Since the statistics are showing consumer interest and growth year over year, a disconnect is perpetuating itself.
Ed Christman in Billboard wrote an exhaustive exhortation on the tricky payment structure from streaming services and how they might translate from record company to artist. Christman’s article “The Baffling (and Slightly Insane) World Of Streaming Payments, Explained” sheds light on the need for transparency from record company to artist.
Echoing the importance of transparency, some believe the record companies have not done the work of explaining the streaming model to artists. To this point, Believe Digital CEO Denis Ladegaillerie explains, “a significant number of artists in our catalog make more money in streaming than downloads.” A disconnect for sure.
Artist and producer Steve Albini, when asked about streaming services, comments that “If the internet has demonstrated anything over the years, it’s that it has a way of breaking limitations placed on its content.” To dismiss streaming services because of misinformation is first-and-foremost tragic for artists.
Building a business around openness rather than control is the way forward for distribution of entertainment. An artist fights obscurity — if there is an opportunity to diminish obscurity and distribute your music to gain fans, this is a road to prosperity.