Australia’s Record Business In 2019 Posts Best Result In 15 years, Powered by Streaming

Sydney Opera House
Michael Dunning/Getty Images

Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia.

Last year seems a lifetime ago. It was certainly a happy time for the Australian recorded music industry, which posted its fifth consecutive year of growth, with streaming services again leading the way, new data shows.

Revenue grew in 2019 to A$555 million ($350 million), up 5.5 per cent from the previous year, with streaming services injecting an additional A$70 million ($44 million) into the industry compared with the 2018 result.

Streaming was the pumping heart of the Australian industry in 2019, generating $445 million ($280 million), or more than 80 per cent of the overall music market, according to wholesale figures published Wednesday (April 22) by ARIA.

The streaming category, which grew 18 per cent year-on-year, includes data supplied from subscription brands including Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music and other nonsubscription on-demand streaming platforms.

It’s a solid result which “reflect the strength of the music industry before the COVID-19 crisis presented us with a series of major challenges,” notes ARIA.

Indeed, the 2019 figure is the best since 2004. It’s a bonanza when compared with the corresponding figure a decade ago, in 2010, when the market was valued at A$384 million, a time when streaming was in its infancy (worth just A$11 million) and CDs were king (at A$252 million).

Today, the business for CD albums continues to march into the sunset, slumping from $53 million ($33 million) in 2018 to almost $37 million ($23 million) in 2019.

Strip out the rocket-fueled streaming sector and it’s not a pretty picture. Every other format contracted in value last year, with the exception of vinyl albums, which enjoyed modest growth at 2.5 percent to $22 million ($13 million), or roughly two-thirds the value of the market for CD albums.

Australia is, of course, facing an extended lockdown due to the coronavirus epidemic. Music subscriptions are up, but streams are down during the health emergency, industry sources tell Billboard. How that plays out across 2020, only time will tell.

Speaking on the latest results, ARIA CEO Dan Rosen noted 2019 was “a strong year for the Australian recording industry,” though 2020 “will be a year like no other due to the impact of COVID-19."

Striking an upbeat tone, Rosen added, “Australian artists and the music industry have faced numerous challenges over the years and have consistently adapted and innovated. With the continued support of Australian music fans, the music community and government, we will get through this together.”

In the meantime, Rosen and his associates at Live Performance Australia, APRA AMCOS and other music industry trade bodies and advocate organizations are said to be in regular contact with the office of Paul Fletcher MP, minister for communication, cyber safety and the arts on securing emergency bailout funds.

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