Vive Le Numérique: French Music Market Tops $834M as Streaming Finally Bests CDs

Johnny Hallyday
Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

Johnny Hallyday receives the award for Best Singing Album for 'De l'amour' during the 31st 'Victoires de la Musique' French Music Awards Ceremony at Le Zenith on Feb. 12, 2016 in Paris.

France has officially joined neighboring Germany and Spain in the streaming takeover. The nation's music industry body, SNEP, released its annual report this week showing a modest 1.8 percent bump in overall revenue across recorded music, totalling €735 million ($834 million) -- locking down a third consecutive year of growth.

The combination of a 20.6 percent drop in CD sales, down to €199.67 million ($226 million), and a 23.2 percent jump in paid streaming revenue to €243 million ($276 million), resulted in overall digital revenue exceeding physical sales for the first time ever -- totaling 57 percent of global sales.

The real winner inside the digital segment was the subscription revenue, which is now the No. 1 source of revenue across recorded music. Paid streaming alone accounts for 41 percent of music sales, compared to just 8 percent five years ago. Ad-supported audio and video streaming makes up another 10 percent.

According to SNEP, nearly half of music consumers (46 percent) use an audio streaming service. Of these fans, 5.5 million now have a paid audio subscription and nearly a third of digital adopters are over 50. Overall, there were 57.5 billion audio streams in 2018, up 35 percent year over year.

The industry body cautioned against throwing in the towel on physical formats, however, citing more than 4,000 points of sale for recorded music across the market, plus a renewed interest in vinyl, which has quintupled its sales in the last five years and makes up a fifth of the physical market. In 2018, nearly 4 million vinyl copies were sold in the throwback format, with sales totaling €47.7 million, up from €37.4 million the year prior.

French artists dominated the top 20 albums of the year, with Johnny Hallyday's posthumous Mon pays c’est l’amour at No. 1. Label wise, UMG landed four entries in the top ten, while Sony placed three, Warner Music two and French indie Wagram with one.

"In a win-win market, we are particularly proud of the spectacular successes of [French] artists, having made 19 of the 20 best album sales of the year 2018, and occupying 80% of Top 200," commented Alexandre Lasch, SNEP' CEO.

According to the most recent IFPI data, France has the fifth biggest music market in terms of total retail value.

SNEP's German counterpart, BVMI, recently announced that streaming had also surpassed physical in terms of revenue share there. Like in France, the German music market was relatively flat in 2018. In Spain, streaming accounts for 75 percent of all recorded music revenue, according to Promusicae.


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