The IFPI Global Music Report tells a positive story of music being enjoyed by more people in more ways than ever before. At the heart of this story are incredible artists, supported by the investment and innovation from record companies and other partners that is helping them to share their music with the world.
We are now in an exciting era in which streaming is making the depth and richness of every kind of music available to hundreds of millions of people, with artists connecting more directly and more quickly with their audiences.
Challenges remain, however, and the fair remuneration of those that create and invest in music must be a priority in this increasingly digital world. The whole community is uniting in its efforts to ensure that music is properly valued so that artists and their work can thrive.
The global recording industry is seeing modest growth after more than a decade of significant decline. Years of investment and innovation have begun to reward an industry that has shifted from adapting to the digital age, to driving it.
The story of the recorded music industry over the last two decades is one of transformation: from physical to digital; downloads to streaming; ownership to access. The industry is now working with its partners on another, ongoing transformation: from years of decline to sustainable growth.
While physical sales remain significant in certain territories and for certain artists, there is no doubt that streaming is the key driver of growth, with the number of users of paid subscriptions having broken the 100 million mark and continuing to rise. Fans are engaged with music in an amazing variety of formats, from the vinyl revival to the phenomenon of musical.ly, but the growth story is centred on services which are widening streaming’s demographic appeal. Record companies and their distribution partners have been instrumental in this, licensing more than 40 million tracks to hundreds of digital services worldwide and developing the high performance systems that allow music to be accessed around the world. Their approach has been global in scope and yet local in execution, adapting their practices to open up legal digital markets for music.
The transformation has created an enormously exciting environment for music fans, who are benefitting from new and evolving services and accessing more music than ever before. In turn, artists have more ways to connect with their fans and more opportunities to share their work in diverse and creative ways. If the digital market continues to grow, so too will the overall level of remuneration to artists, as will the levels of overall investment required to create new music whilst helping to drive digital innovation.
However, this is far from ‘mission accomplished’. Instead, as the market continues to evolve at a pace never before seen, the industry is seizing the moment, driving further innovation and exploring ever-expanding new ways of engaging with fans around the world.
Realistically, for this growth to become sustainable, for investment in artists to be maintained and for the market to continue to evolve and develop, more must be done to safeguard the value of music and to reward creativity. For music to thrive in a digital world, there must be a fair digital marketplace.
Artists and creators have spoken about the global ‘value gap’, whereby ‘safe harbour’ legislation dating from the Internet’s early days is being abused by user upload services such as YouTube, who are not licensing music on a fair basis. Gradually, policymakers are beginning to listen and legislation is being examined or proposed in some territories around the world, including in Europe where the European Commission has recognised the existence of a value gap and begun working towards legislation. However, this is a global problem that requires legislative solutions across the globe. The industry continues to fight worldwide for a level playing field for fairly licensed digital services.
Copyright infringement, in a variety of guises, remains a major issue, with the growing practice of ‘stream ripping’ now very much part of the challenge facing our industry. With an unprecedented amount of licensed music now available to fans, these practices have no place in the music world, today or tomorrow.
The global music business is changing more significantly – and quickly – than ever before, but the fundamental role of a record company remains the same: to discover, nurture, support and promote artists and to make their music accessible around the world.
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