Digital music in figures

The recording industry is a mixed-format business, offering music fans a diverse range of formats, including not only hundreds of streaming services, but everything from downloads to CDs and vinyl.

The recording industry’s global revenues for 2015 came from a number of revenue streams:

39% physical format sales
45% Digital revenues
14% Performance rights
2% Synchronisation revenues

Digital music revenues

The global music market achieved a key milestone in 2015 as digital became the primary revenue stream for recorded music, overtaking sales of physical formats. Digital revenues now account for 45 percent of total revenues, compared to 39 per cent for physical sales.

In the latest step of the industry’s hard-fought and successful evolution in the digital world, digital revenues rose 10.2 percent, leading to the industry’s first significant growth year-on-year growth in almost 20 years.

Streaming remains the industry’s fastest-growing revenue source. Revenues increased 45.2 per cent to US$ 2.9 billion and, over the five year period up to 2015, have grown more than four-fold.

Helped by the spread of smartphones, increased availability of high-quality subscription services and connected fans migrating onto licensed music services, streaming has grown to represent 19 per cent of global industry revenues, up from 14 per cent in 2014. Streaming now accounts for 43 per cent of digital revenues and is close to overtaking downloads (45 per cent) to become the industry’s primary digital revenue stream.

Premium subscription services have seen a dramatic expansion in recent years with an estimated 68 million people now paying a music subscription. This figures is up from 41 million in 2014 and just eight million when data was first compiled in 2010.

Downloads remain a significant offering, accounting for just 20 per cent of industry revenues. Income was down 10.5 per cent to US$ 3.0 billion – a higher rate of decline than in 2014 (- 8.2 per cent). Full album downloads are still a major part of the music fans’ experience and were worth US$1.4 billion. This is higher than the level of sales in 2010 (US$983 million) and 2011 (US$1.3 billion).

An estimated 68 million people paid for music subscription services in 2015, more than eight times the level of eight million people in 2010

Performance rights revenue grew. Revenue generated through the use of recorded music by broadcasters and public venues increased 4.4 per cent to US$2.1 billion and remains one of the most consistent growing revenue sources. This revenue stream now accounts for 14 per cent of the industry’s overall global revenue, up from 10 per cent in 2011.

Revenues from physical formats declined, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years, falling by 4.5 per cent compared to 8.5 per cent in 2014 and 10.6 per cent in 2013. The sector still accounts for 39 per cent of overall global income and remains the format of choice for consumers in a number of major markets worldwide including Japan (75 per cent), Germany (60 per cent), and France (42 per cent).

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