With all the focus on music these days, it’s hard to imagine that the recorded music business has been in decline for much of the past decade – but that has been the position according to industry analysis.

The good news is that dramatic growth in streaming music last year has helped reverse the trend …

Music Industry Blog has the numbers.

2017 was a stellar year for the recorded music business. Global recorded music revenues reached $17.4 billion in 2017 in trade values, up from $16 billion in 2016, an annual growth rate of 8.5%. That $1.4 billion of growth puts the global total just below 2008 levels ($17.7 billion) meaning that the decline wrought through much of the last 10 years has been expunged. The recorded music business is locked firmly in growth mode, following nearly $1 billion growth in 2016.

Different sources give different splits between purchased and streamed music, some saying streaming now generates more revenue than recorded music, others saying it isn’t there yet. In part that’s because it depends how you measure itMIB falls into the latter camp, saying streaming accounts for 43% of total revenues, but notes that it grew 39% last year.

Streaming has, unsurprisingly, been the driver of growth, growing revenues by 39% year-on-year, adding $2.1 billion to reach $7.4 billion, representing 43% of all revenues. The growth was comfortably larger than the $783 million / -10% that legacy formats (ie downloads and physical) collectively declined by.

The combined revenue of indie artists was almost as high as that of Universal Music, the biggest label, ahead of Sony and Warner.

Universal Music retained its market leadership position in 2017 with revenues of $5,162 million, representing 29.7% of all revenues […] Meanwhile independents delivered $4,798 million representing 27.6%.

Apple Music was likely a strong factor in streaming growth, recently hitting 40M subscribers. One analyst has predicted that Apple’s music service will see growth of 40% per year for the next three years.

Photo: CNET

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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