The recorded music industry has enjoyed its first significant growth since the dawn of the Internet age, as streaming led digital to overtake physical sales, a global trade body said Tuesday.
Recorded music revenue expanded by 3.2 percent in 2015 worldwide to $15 billion (roughly Rs. 99,541 crores), fuelled by an extraordinary growth in subscriptions to streaming services, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
The growth is the first uptick in the music industry at a more than marginal level since 1998, when sales grew 4.8 percent year-on-year.
But the industry is still down by one-third since the late 1990s, when Internet service became mainstream in developed countries and listeners flocked to music sites, both legal and illicit.
The rapid growth of streaming services such as Spotify which allow unlimited, on-demand music online led digital music to surpass sagging physical sales for the first time last year.
The industry federation estimated that 68 million people around the world had digital subscriptions, compared with just eight million in 2010 when it started keeping track.
Streaming revenue grew by 45.2 percent in the past year alone, nearly matching sales from digital downloads on iTunes and other sites.
Yet the industry did not cast an entirely rosy picture, saying revenue was still far below potential.
“The value of music is still not being fully recognized. Today, there is a real spirit of optimism across our industry, but we are a long way from declaring ‘mission accomplished’,” Stu Bergen, the CEO for international and global commercial services at Warner Music Group, told reporters on a conference call.
Some 900 million people essentially listen to music for free through advertising-supported sites, yet the revenue generated for the music industry is barely a quarter of that through streaming subscriptions, the annual report said.
The growth was the result in part of the introduction of streaming including Apple Music to Japan where, in sharp contrast to most of the world, some three-quarters of sales are CDs or, to an increasing extent, vinyl.