The impact of streaming on download sales and why there is no simple answer to the question of cannibalization

sub vs dldIn the past few months the publication of detailed national digital-music sales figures has illustrated great differences between countries’ digital-music-buying habits. Published analysis of digital-music sales patterns has drawn a variety of conclusions regarding whether subscription streaming services are cannibalizing download sales. However, as subscribing to music starts to become mainstream and download sales begin leveling off, or falling, more and more people are asking whether streaming is to blame. Continue reading “The impact of streaming on download sales and why there is no simple answer to the question of cannibalization”

Does the fragmentation of today’s recorded-music industry make the return to global growth largely symbolic?

Global musicCelebrating a rise in global recorded-music trade revenues is something most in the music industry under the age of 30 have never done. After a flattening in trade revenues in 1999, every subsequent year through 2011 saw revenues drop. Last year, however, the industry experienced slight growth, bringing an end to a 12-year contraction streak.

The IFPI cautioned against getting too carried away with the result, and digging into the different national-trade-association results suggests it was right to do so. Moreover, although a 9% rise in digital sales was the driving force behind the return to overall growth, the differences in the performance and transformation of the leading markets effectively make any evaluation of the global recorded-music industry almost irrelevant. Continue reading “Does the fragmentation of today’s recorded-music industry make the return to global growth largely symbolic?”

A short history of the music industry: different formats, familiar names but the same old problems

M&C coverIn the past 20 years or so, all sectors of the music industry have been through massive change. Format transitions, company consolidation and greater scrutiny of copyright and licensing have changed the industry beyond all recognition. But have the changes made for industry improvements, and more important, have the main players learned from their mistakes? The recent discovery of the first issues of Music & Copyright has allowed for a unique look at just how much certain things have changed, and how much they haven’t.

The newsletter’s 20-year anniversary came and went in September, but thanks to a long-standing subscriber, copies of the first 24 issues published have been found and make for interesting reading. Despite containing names that have either long since left the music industry or been swallowed up as part of industry consolidation, the headlines for a number of news stories resonate closely with happenings today. Continue reading “A short history of the music industry: different formats, familiar names but the same old problems”

Why emerging markets are taking center stage in international digital-service rollouts

Toward the end of last year, Deezer and iTunes extended their footprints to include several countries that are often considered emerging markets. The growth of broadband Internet use around the world, providing access to a wealth of unauthorized recorded music, has made life difficult for new digital-service rollouts. But with the balance of economic power expected to shift away from the current leaders, is now the time for the emerging markets to start living up to their name? Continue reading “Why emerging markets are taking center stage in international digital-service rollouts”

The recorded-music industry is still a US$40 billion business

Over the past decade or so, the assessment of the recorded-music industry has shifted from retail sales to trade value. The complexities and the growing number of business models involved in the delivery of digital music, coupled with unknown retail markups, make quantifying the retail value of recorded-music sales speculative at best. But the enduring appeal of ring tones and ring-back tones in some less-developed countries suggests that the size of the global retail pie has not changed; there are just more players taking a slice. Continue reading “The recorded-music industry is still a US$40 billion business”

Should faster broadband speeds mean better quality digital-music downloads?

For a number of years, the MP3 audio codec dominated digital-music downloading. MP3 was initially synonymous with illegal downloading, but in 2007 the major record companies dropped their opposition to selling music in unprotected formats. Although Apple chose to stick with the AAC codec, most others opted for MP3. Until recently little has changed in terms of quality. But with broadband speeds and household penetration continuing to rise, is now the time for the music industry to up its focus on quality? Continue reading “Should faster broadband speeds mean better quality digital-music downloads?”

The Adele effect hits major-record-company market shares in 2011

Music & Copyright’s annual survey of the recorded-music and music-publishing industries has revealed that Universal Music Group (UMG) remained the world’s biggest record company and Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) the largest music-publishing company in 2011. The positioning of each of the four major record-label and music-publishing companies was unchanged last year. Although this lack of change could suggest that 2011 offered up “more of the same” in the recorded-music and music-publishing sectors, such an assumption would be wide of the mark. Continue reading “The Adele effect hits major-record-company market shares in 2011”

Why the case against ReDigi should go to a full trial for the good of the music industry

Earlier this month, US District Judge Richard Sullivan ruled against EMI’s Capitol Records’ request for a preliminary injunction against the digital-music reseller ReDigi. Capitol had wanted the service closed down but Judge Sullivan denied the record company’s demand and insisted that the service should stay online and the case go to trial. The judge’s action has been widely reported as a victory for ReDigi and to some extent it is. Not every day can a start-up company say it has fended off one of the world’s biggest record companies. But in the longer term, having the case go to a full trial can only be a good thing for the music industry. Should Judge Sullivan have ruled without a trial that ReDigi was infringing copyright then the issue of legality would rumble on and proponents of digital resale would simply claim they have been trodden on by a big corporation wanting to protect its business. Continue reading “Why the case against ReDigi should go to a full trial for the good of the music industry”

Midyear recorded-music sales roundup

Of all the countries that have reported midyear sales figures, it is the US that has provided the most optimism. For the first six months of this year, album-unit sales rose 1% compared with same period of 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan. This represented the first time that album sales had increased since 2004. Including track-equivalent albums (10 digital tracks equal one album), the growth figure was higher, at 3.7%. Digital-album sales were reported by Nielsen SoundScan to have increased 10% year-on-year, with digital-track sales rising 11%. Recent figures from Nielsen SoundScan, for the year to Aug. 21, published in the trade magazine Billboard, suggest that the situation has improved slightly, with album sales up 2.4% compared with the same period in 2010 and album sales including track equivalents rising 4.8%. Continue reading “Midyear recorded-music sales roundup”

Question – is now the right time for the European Commission to legislate on Pan-European digital music licensing?

The issue of Pan-European licensing and how best it can be achieved is a hot topic. Earlier this week, in an interview with the UK trade magazine Music Week, Pandora founder Tim Westergren said that a centralized licensing structure was needed for the service to return to Europe. Westergren is not alone in his criticism of the licensing in Europe as plenty of other digital music services have bemoaned the complexity of the licensing structure in the region. But is the situation as bad as they all claim? The big music publishers have all set up “hubs” to streamline the licensing process and the Pan-Nordic mechanical-rights-collection society Nordisk Copyright Bureau has shown that multiterritory licensing can be achieved without legislation from Europe.

With this in mind, Music & Copyright would like your opinion on the issue. Please answer the below question and by all means add any comments. The results of the poll will be published in the next issue on July 13.

Music & Copyright is published by Informa Telecoms & Media.