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IFPI Global Report 2022: Music Revenues Rise for Seventh Straight Year to $25.9B

Total streaming revenues rose 24.3% in 2021, bringing the segment's share of the overall music market to 65%.

Global music sales rose for the seventh consecutive year in 2021 with recorded music revenues growing in every region and each of the world’s top 10 markets, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s (IFPI) “Global Music Report 2022.”

Total revenues climbed to $25.9 billion, a rise of 18.5% on the previous year — the highest growth rate ever recorded by London-based IFPI. Driving the growth was a 21.9% jump in paid streaming subscription revenues, which totaled $12.3 billion, coupled with strong gains in physical record sales — up for the first time in two decades — and performance rights.

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Total streaming (including paid subscription and advertising-supported) grew by 24% to $16.9 billion, representing 65% of total global recorded music revenues, up from 62% in 2020.

Revenues from physical format sales rose 16.1% to $5 billion, representing 19.2% of global revenues. Sales of CDs increased for the first time this millennium and vinyl revenues shot up 51%. Performance rights climbed 4% to $2.4 billion, representing 9.4% of global revenues.

IFPI credited the strong rise in physical format sales in 2021 to the recovery of the retail industry, following the previous year’s near-global shutdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The only channel to record a decline was downloads and what IFPI class as other digital formats, which fell 10.7% to $839 million, representing just 3.2% of the global market.

“Today’s music market is the most competitive in memory,” said IFPI chief executive Frances Moore announcing the report. “Around the world, record companies are engaging at a very local level, to support music cultures and bring on the development of emerging music ecosystem… As more markets mature, they join with and contribute to the rich, globally interconnected music world.”

IFPI’s Global Music Report 2022 Topline Figures:

  • Global music sales up 18.5% to $25.9 billion
  • Streaming subscription revenues up 21.9% to $12.3 billion
  • Total streaming revenues (including paid and ad-supported) up 24.3% to $16.9 billion
  • Physical revenues up 16.1% to $5 billion
  • Performance rights revenues rise 4% to $2.4 billion
  • 523 million paid music subscribers
  • Streaming’s share of global music sales: 65%

Sustained growth in record sales from streaming means that the industry has now climbed above 1999 levels – at least on an absolute dollar basis, not accounting for inflation – when IFPI started reporting global music sales and the music industry was worth $24.1 billion. Piracy and declining physical sales saw the market bottom out at $14 billion in 2014.

There are now 523 million users of paid streaming services worldwide, up from 443 million in 2020. Streaming is now the leading revenue format in nearly every global music market, reports IFPI

In terms of world markets, the U.S. retains its number one position with music sales growing 22.6%. Japan holds steady in second place with sales growing 9.3% in 2021 —  arresting the prior year’s 2% decline on the back of falling demand for physical product.

The third and fourth-biggest markets for recorded music remain the United Kingdom (+13.2%) and Germany (+12.6%), respectively. The rest of the top 10 is made up of France (+11.8%), China (+30.4%) South Korea (+21.6%), Canada (+ 12.6%), Australia (+4.1%) and Italy, which returned to the top 10 after growth of 27.8%. IFPI did not provide a market-by-market revenue breakdown.

Those cross-market gains are mirrored on a regional basis with revenues from the U.S. and Canada region up 22%, while Latin America – where streaming now accounts for 86% of the market — saw growth of 31.2%

The fastest-growing market region in 2021 was Middle East and North Africa, split out as a separate region in IFPI’s “Global Music Report” for the first time, which recorded a 35% rise in music sales, driven almost entirely by streaming, which has a 95% of the nascent recorded music market. Sub-Saharan Africa, which was also split out for the first time, saw revenues climb 9.6%.

Revenues in Europe, the second-largest recorded music region in the world after the U.S. and Canada, grew by 15.4% — compared to the prior year’s growth rate of 3.2% — driven by Europe’s three biggest markets, the U.K., Germany and France, which all registered double-digit growth.

Asia grew by 16.1% and accounted for almost half (49.6%) of global physical revenues. In total, five regions reported double-digit percentage growth with all seven seeing revenues rise in 2021 on the back of streaming.

Joining Frances Moore in central London for the report’s launch were senior execs from all three major labels and Konrad von Löhneysen, founder and director of Germany-based independent Embassy Of Music. Three other senior labels execs joined the report launch via zoom.

Adam Granite, executive vice president of market development at Universal Music Group, called the record revenues reported in IFPI’s report “a truly global growth story” driven by labels and record companies making significant investments in local markets around the world.

“You have to have proverbial boots on the ground to really succeed long term in these markets,” said Granite. “Today, artists are connecting with fans across the globe in new and engaging ways and local artist partnerships are key to this global reach.”

Simon Robson, head of Warner Music Group’s international recorded music operations outside the U.S. and the U.K., reiterated the importance of emerging markets to record companies. He joined the report launch by Zoom from Dubai, where he said he was “finalizing” the label’s agreement to buy Qanawat Music, a leading music distributor across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which Warner announced Monday.

Robson called the deal to buy Qanawat Music “a great example of the approach we are taking to grow our global business” that “turbo charges” Warner Music’s position in the Middle East and Africa.

“To tap into many music scenes around the world…. we need people on the ground who are familiar with the artist and trusted by them to help build their career,” said Robson. “Where we don’t have those contacts already in our affiliates, we need to bring in local expects and the Qanawat deal is a perfect example of this.”

Robson said Qanawat Music would act as the label’s local distributor in the region (it operates in more than 20 countries across the Middle East and North Africa) and be a “significant source of upstreaming opportunities.”

Unlocking new immersive technologies will also be a large focus for record companies going forward, said Dennis Kooker, president of global digital business and U.S. sales for Sony Music Entertainment, who was in London for the report launch.

Kooker identified immersive experiences in the metaverse, NFTs “or a format that doesn’t even exist today” among the potential gateways to deeper artist-fan experiences.

“Ultimately, our job is to build the infrastructure,” said Kooker, “required to take these experiences for the artist and turn them into reality for their fans.”

UPDATE: This article was updated on March 22, 2022, at 3:45 pm EST to include more comment from industry executives.