The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Slowdown in streaming growth rates casts doubt on a return to the glory years
Later this year, global trade body the IFPI is set to report the most positive year for recorded-music sales this century. Audio subscriptions will undoubtedly be the star of the show, and the combination of subscription payments and advertising income will boost streaming to the top of the earnings pile. The continuing vinyl revival will soften the rate of decline in physical format revenue, but it’s a safe bet that audio subscriptions will have become the single biggest revenue source. The rise of the paid subscription from a niche revenue source just a few years ago is impressive, and the year-end record-company results have illustrated the importance of access services to the companies’ bottom lines. There are, however, signs that the big gains in streaming revenue are slowing. While it is certainly much too early to suggest that the access service bubble is anywhere near close to bursting, its rate of inflation is slowing down and could well become a cause for concern in the next year or so.
Positive year-end for Pandora as subscription gains drive revenue growth
Online radio and music subscription service Pandora has reported a positive end to its 2017 financial year. Revenue beat expectations, with higher subscriber earnings more than compensating for a flat year for advertising. Net losses for Pandora more than halved in the final quarter, although there was sizable growth in net losses for the full year. Although listener hours and the number of active listeners in the final quarter fell year on year, the number of paid subscribers increased. During the earnings call, Pandora’s senior executives commented that the proportion of its audience listening through voice-activated devices was growing sharply. Moreover, the company confirmed that plans were well on the way to expand beyond recorded music, with podcasts set to be added to its current range of audio content.
French recorded-music sales see second consecutive year of growth
French music trade association SNEP has reported a second straight year of growth for trade earnings from recorded-music sales. The rise marked only the third time in the last 10 years that trade sales have registered an uptick. Subscriptions and ad-supported streaming were the two growth sectors with sales of single track and album downloads falling sharply. In a repeat of 2016, the overall performance was buoyed by a modest dip in trade earnings from physical format sales with digital more than offsetting the physical losses. However, physical formats still accounted for the majority of trade revenue, and despite the streaming gains, concerns remain over the medium-term prospects for the French recorded-music sector should the rate of decline in CD album sales begin to accelerate.
India country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed India music industry report. India is one of a small number of countries often tagged as an emerging market with great potential to become a major market of the future. With the population ending last year at more than 1.3 billion and an economy that is growing steadily, tapping into what is a market ripe for exploitation is always high on the recorded-music industry’s list of priorities. However, despite the promise, India has so far failed to live up to its emerging tag, with positive results one year followed by poor sales the next. The biggest problem for the country is piracy. Retailers have always struggled to compete in a market flooded with illegal copies. Moreover, rising internet penetration brought with it increased access to unauthorized music distribution sites and services. Developments in the last year or so have suggested that streaming may be the way out of the piracy problem, but the road to prolonged higher sales and meaningful returns is likely to be a long one.
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