Spanish Recording Industry Has First Gain in Music Sales in Over a Decade

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Pablo Alboran performs during the 15th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 20, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

2014 Spending rises to 149.9 million euros in a market ruled by “the absolute domination of music in Spanish.”

Spain has achieved its first year-over-year gain in music sales in more than a decade. In 2014, consumer spending on recorded music reached 149.9 million euros, according to a report released Tuesday (Feb. 10) by Spanish music industry association PROMUSICAE.

Spanish pop stars Pablo Alboran and David Bisbal led artists in album sales, while Enrique Iglesias' "Bailando" topped downloads and streaming on Spain's end-of-year charts.

Overall sales jumped to 21.23% over 2013, which PROMUSICAE called the worst year ever for Spain's music industry. However, 2014's numbers are still dwarfed by 2001's record 626 million euros.

The good news for Spain's music industry was due in part to people's increasing willingness to pay for digital music. Digital music sales rose 22.7% since 2013, to make up 42% of overall spending on recorded music.

"The favorable performance of new digital consumption models bodes well in spite of the really modest figures, far from what should occur in a country with such a cultural strength as Spain," said PROMUSICAE president Antonio Guisasola. He noted that the country's "serious piracy problem" was still far from being resolved.

Subscription services have caught on in Spain, with streaming music rising over 36% in 2014, to 47.2 million euros. Those figures include Spotify, Deezer, and Napster, whose number of subscribers alone in Spain rose 40% last year.

Downloads were down 2%, and ringtones and other products in the once-heady, mobile-specific content market were down 20.5% from 2013. CDs were still the preferred physical format, but sales of vinyl, at 260,000 LPs, was almost double that of last year.

Pop singer Pablo Alboran's Terral was 2014's number-one album in Spain, with sales of over 157,000 units sold in the six weeks after its release in mid-November. By comparison, in the U.S., Terral has sold just over 5,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen Music. Further indicating Spanish listeners' preference for homegrown artists, David Bisbal came in second on the Spanish year end list, with 125,000 units sold of his album Tú y Yo. El Barrio, a flamenco pop artist, was no. 3, followed by Spanish rock group Fito y los Fitipaldis.

Enrique Iglesias' global hit "Bailando," featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente De Zona, was the leader last year in both streams (35 million) and downloads (80,000).

"The analysis of the first positions on the albums list corroborates, even more than other years, the absolute domination of music in Spanish in the preferences of consumers," the PROMUSICAE report said.

In the list of Spain's twenty top albums of 2014, only an eclectic three were foreign acts: One Direction's Four at no. 12, Coldplay's Ghost Stories at no. 17, and AC/DC's Rock or Bust at no. 19. Pharell's "Happy" came in at no. 2 on both the downloads and streaming songs charts, where music in English was more frequent.

At the beginning of 2015, PROMUSICAE began publishing a new weekly chart that combines track streams, downloads and physical sales to reflect "a more meaningful picture of the Spanish phonographic scene."