Music Industry Growing For The First Time Since 1999

After 13 years of losses, the music industry stopped shrinking in 2012 thanks to a massive drop in illegal downloads and the rise of digital music services.

Ultimate Guitar

The global music industry has grown in size for the first time since 1999 - the year that music sharing service Napster was born.

With the rise of streaming services and big global hits from the likes of Adele and Psy, music revenue grew by 0.3% to $16.5 billion. While 0.3% may seem small, it is a vast improvement on 13 years of losses, and the music industry is hailing it as a major success.

"It is hard to remember a year for the recording industry that has begun with such a palpable buzz in the air," said IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) chief executive Frances Moore (via Hollywood Reporter).

The shift from physical to digital continues, with digital sales now accounting for one third of all music sales after rising by 9% in 2012. Subscriptions to streaming services rose by 44% to around 20 million users.

A separate study has found that illegal downloads went down by 26% in 2012. The number of people copying CDs from friends reportedly fell by almost half, and downloads from "digital lockers" went down by 28%.

"The industry is on the road to recovery," added Frances Moore, calling it "a hard-won success for an industry that has innovated, battled and transformed itself over a decade. The music industry has adapted to the internet world and learned how to meet the needs of consumers."

Will the music business continue its recovery? Let us know what you think in the comments.

120 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    The number of people copying CDs fell? Wow. Can you tell me more about people who copy cassette tapes too? More informative would be the number of people still actually buying CDs vs. other digital/streaming sources. I don't think people stop copying CDs because they found some new moral high ground. There are just less CDs being manufactured.
    Don't see how a puny incremental increase after a decade hovering above rock bottom is significant at all. That said, we must celebrate every victory on the road back to a society that better supports musicians.
    Sadly, this was them noticing the whole "Throw enough shit at a wall and some of it will stick" thing. Seriously, it seems like the people who head up the music industry have had their heads up their own asses for the longest time...It took them so god damn long to actually work out how to get good streaming services.
    i disliked simply due to the fact that that **** psy is on the cover if that is what people consider music and its growing, i want no part of it. sry
    The combination of making illegal downloading more and more difficult to the general public (still not tough if you know where to look) and making legal downloading easier, more convenient and less expensive will keep the music industry alive for a long time. It will probably never be as ridiculously profitable as it was in the 70's, 80's an 90's but the music industry isn't going away. It's changing.
    The only reason illegal downloading is going down is because most people have got what they wanted!
    It's true. In my case anyway. I'm interested in only a handful of bands that you would consider modern, and I certainly buy their albums. But unfortunately my taste in music is such that anything that interests me came out decades ago.
    Music industry? Lip-syncing industry maybe. My boys are still poor as sh... Playing a gluey guitar. Ain't nothing up about it.
    Every pop musician from every decade has lip synced. In Keith Richards autobiography he talks about how few shows in the early pop days were live.
    The thing is that now with all the technology available, almost anyone can record an album. Even if you suck, you got all these plugins and software to help out (autotune n' shit,), back in the day with less technology these pop artists needed a quota of talent to make it through and you almost don't see that nowadays
    And? That also means there's been plenty of great albums that have been made because of the easy access to recording materials. It's not like playing a simple beat and autotuning your vocals is going to make you a millionaire and #1 on the charts. Anyways just like in the past, the biggest artist are running through the top end expensive gear that isn't affordable to everyone.
    "It's not like playing a simple beat and autotuning your vocals is going to make you a millionaire and #1 on the charts." Lil Wayne?
    Sucks that music nowadays are like 10% music, 40% bandwagon, and 50% appearance.
    Nowadays? You just described KISS.
    I'll take KISS any day over what PASSES for music/musicians/artists these days.....
    Grandpa, is that you?
    See, now you're being just as closed-minded and just as much of a bigot about things like KISS as the general public is about rock music, etc., in general. Ruling something out as dad/grandpa rock 'just because' is exactly the same as the way the general public tends to rule out real music that's not all synthetic electronic/digital pop stuff, 'just because.' KISS wasn't the best band, by any means. Appearance and mysteriousness played a big part in their success, and it was obviously a higher priority than the music, but that doesn't immediately mean the music is horrible. They still put plenty of effort into their music and their musicianship. A lot of the stuff they did in the 70s (and a few things from the 80s and even the early 90s) was pretty cool, even if was just typically throwaway hard pop-rock. You're no better than the people who only want to listen to Psy and the like, while they mock anyone who actually plays an instrument. That sort of thinking makes you sound like a twat. Besides that, I guarantee that if you're into any kind of newer music that's at least as heavy as Weezer or more, you can trace their/your influences back to KISS. Speaking of Weezer, they were huge KISS fans, as well as Pantera, etc. That means that any bands that have been influenced by them have been indirectly influenced by KISS. Dimebag Darrell was probably more vocal about his love for KISS, but you can hear a heavy Gene Simmons influence in a lot of Phil Anselmo's vocals, especially on the first two major label albums. I guarantee you that practically every modern metal band has been influenced by Pantera, which means every modern metal band has been influenced by KISS, whether directly or indirectly. Seeing as you're on this site, I'd bet you're a guitar player. Seeing as how you're in the comment section, I'd bet you're into metal. By deductive reasoning, it's highly likely that the music you play and the music you listen to have been influenced by KISS in one way or another, whether you like it or not.
    I'll take plenty of artists today over KISS, to be honest. Maybe it's because they were before my generation, but I never understood the interest in KISS when it comes to their music. They may be hard workers, and they may put on quite a show, but to just listen to their music? Sorry, but not for me.
    I agree. They're more of a business than a band. And Gene Simmons is one of the greatest CEOs ever. As far as music, it's not bad by any means, but I don't understand how they are as big as they are.
    The band I'm playing in has been together 3 years and where already tighter sounding live than kiss (Im not trying to brag, check their live videos, for professionals they have awful rhythm), I'm not trying to be disrespectful, they'd straight out kick our asses at stage theatrics but there shows are a display of relatively weak musicianship, or maybe the video I saw was the exception rather than the rule, either way there success demonstrates the importance of an interesting stage show, there's a reason people say there going to SEE a show. Much to bland and not the right kind of cheesy for my tastes (I'm kind of a prog head and I'm more inclined to an operatic kind of cheesy along the lines of queen), its probably that I grew up listening to pinkfloyd and whatever world music artists my mom played and didn't get exposed to the kind of cheesy radio rock many of that listen to. I definitely respect their business sense, they found a way to make money doing what they love and as long as I don't have to know what Gene Simmons looks like ****ing I'm happy for them.
    Doo, doo, doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo, doo Doo, doo, doo, doo-doo, doo-doo Doo, doo, doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo, doo Doo, doo, doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
    So, you're telling me...the music industry was saved by PSY? huh.
    I think PSY was a success story for the music industry because it was the first time in awhile that they were able to get such mass exposure for a song.
    Mr Brownst0ne
    Who really cares if music sales are up, physical or digital, if the two highest sellers of the year are adele and psy?