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'Germans Love Their CDs': Universal Music Exec on How Germany's Music Market Is Transforming 'Differently'

david bowie
Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

A customer picks up a copy of "Blackstar" the latest album by British musician David Bowie in a branch of HMV in central London on Jan. 11, 2016. 

With healthy growth in streaming and resilient CD sales, the German music market will continue to grow for years to come, according to Universal Music's chief in Germany. "Music has become a market with a future again," remarked Frank Briegmann, president and CEO Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon, on Wednesday at a conference in Berlin. "This year the German and global music market has registered stable growth, Germany up by +3.0% and the worldwide +6.1%. Germany is currently in the 5th consecutive year of growth."

Briegmann indicated that compared to the international market, the ratio of digital to physical sales was practically the other way around. "This stability of the physical formats is just as important for our current growth as streaming," he said, speaking at Universal's annual international sales confab. "In particular, this stability is something for which many countries envy us."

He said that in the fourth quarter of 2016 alone, Universal had sold physical media worth 80 million euros, as well as 20 million-plus CDs over the course of the entire year. "Germans love their CDs," he noted. "Many only buy this particular format. However, the dynamic growth of streaming is higher than the average of the world market. In other words, the German market is simply transforming itself differently. We are positioned on a number of stable mainstays and this will certainly continue to be the case for some time."

Briegmann said that the challenge for Universal and other record labels now was to encourage customers to stream and download items on offer. However, he indicated that this only stood a chance with new repertoire and chart hits. "We're thrilled that we are clearly in the lead on the market in this particular segment," he explained. He said that in the album charts, in the past twelve months

"We take risks by investing in new artists, in making them successful and creating catalogue material in the process," he said to wide applause by the many dealers who had come to this conference.

In Briegmann's words, Universal generates over 6 billion contacts per month worldwide in the digital segment. "Our artists are in the lead especially in the charts of the social media. If we look at the very peak of the pyramid, we notice that amongst the artists with the strongest reach, 9 out of 10 on Instagram, 6 out of 10 on Facebook and, incidentally, 6 out of 10 on Youtube are with Universal. I think it’s quite clear that we are driving the use of these channels here with our artists."