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.

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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

    c0pperw0und
    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.
    dudebud
    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.
    Democrab
    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.
    DeanThaBean
    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
    Abacus11
    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.
    .:!j.man!:.
    The only reason illegal downloading is going down is because most people have got what they wanted!
    PowerStruggle
    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.
    jonnyherf
    Music industry? Lip-syncing industry maybe. My boys are still poor as sh... Playing a gluey guitar. Ain't nothing up about it.
    Sloan7
    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.
    Chronologo
    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
    Kueller917
    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.
    jordo246
    "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?
    rolandroi
    Sucks that music nowadays are like 10% music, 40% bandwagon, and 50% appearance.
    c0pperw0und
    Nowadays? You just described KISS.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    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
    UncleBluck
    I'll take KISS any day over what PASSES for music/musicians/artists these days.....
    mradubz33
    Grandpa, is that you?
    dewitt
    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.
    The_Dayman
    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.
    eVwaylon
    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.
    latinromans
    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.
    Andrax20
    So, you're telling me...the music industry was saved by PSY? huh.
    rebreh
    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
    source?
    slayer7666
    Who really cares if music sales are up, physical or digital, if the two highest sellers of the year are adele and psy?
    BledGhostWhite
    After Limewire shut down, I was too lazy to continue illegally downloading music, so I just started buying my cds. Personally, I think having a huge-ass cd collection is cooler than just a full iPod. I know a lot of people that have gone back to physical copies as well, and I'm pretty psyched about it. If you[re gonna pirate shit, fine. But at least support the artists you like. Buy their shit, go to their shows, etc. Help them help you.
    ZOSO <(")
    The music industry will never recover, it might get a little better than it is now but it will never again get to a point where every band creates there own signature sound, and in order to sound good on an album you have to be talented. People are to lazy to practice and sound good because of skill, when they can just auto-tune everything anyway. plus most listeners and a lot of artists don't care if the music they hear/make is real or not, it's just about keeping that image up and making money.
    teknoman
    Hopefully this means that they will leave the internet alone for good.
    RickyThomson
    Ha, don't you worry, they'll milk every last drop of profit from what they can. All you have to do is make a crappy record (on purpose), argue that no-one is buying it because of piracy, and sue anyone where you can prove they downloaded it. They don't care about sales, just profit, no matter how they get it.
    thewoodsterix
    I did a paper on this lately for my university course - the figures actually show that the music industry's transactions per day as actually increased but people were buying single songs instead of full albums. As such the revenue generated was much less despite the frequency of transactions increasing. I concluded by stating that streaming services combined with album sales could result in the revenue that music once saw in 1999 and that piracy wasn't to blame but the business model of iTunes allowing you to buy single songs instead of albums. Tr;dr: Piracy wasn't the reason the music industry didn't generate as much revenue for over a decade.
    ljpfahey
    It's like an impotent man getting excited because his dick just gained 0.3% growth. Call us when we've got a boner on our hands. No disrespect to impotent men. At least you can stream. Geddit? -I realise 0.3% is probably a semi or lob-on in economic terms but forgive this please. That's business for ya; you gotta deal with a lot of limp dicks.
    microwaveramen
    i'd be happy if modern music didn't suck
    The_Dayman
    It doesn't, though. You just have to look harder.
    alfie9000
    You sort of people really annoy me instead of looking harder why don't you just tell us so it gets popular. That said, I found a cool band called Heavens Basement.
    The_Dayman
    I apologize for annoying you, but what annoys me is when people say an entire generation of music is terrible when that's not the case. And yeah, Heaven's Basement is pretty cool.
    BastyGuitar
    "You sort of people really annoy me instead of looking harder why don't you just tell us so it gets popular." Yeah, and when it's popular 90% stream "MAINSTREAM" again.
    robo37
    Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Porcupine Tree, Black Light Burns, Queens of the Stone Age...
    alfie9000
    sorry mate but I don't consider that new music. seems most of those bands were formed in the late 80s or 90s. However I like all those bands.
    robo37
    True, looking back the first four were formed in the 80s, though some people insist everything after the 70s is new so I guess the definition of "new" varies from person to person. I thought at least two that are some great modern equivalents though. They are: Android Lust, and Martin Grech
    Amuro Jay
    Waiting for the influx of "today's music sucks, mannnn" posts oh wait i guess i'm too late for that oops.
    UniformRecon
    That doesn't matter if the artists that are getting the lion's share of it would be shit artists like Rhianna & Tyler the Creator. It would be better if this was through album sales rather than streaming services, which basically rip off musicians. I'm not a hypocrite with this either, because I'm a musician and I don't use any streaming services or downloading services. But whatever. Hopefully we'll see more of the better musicians that don't get much attention through this "growth".
    j-mac71
    tyler the creator has alot of talent, you might just not like his aggression/insanity. I think his raps are pretty expressive at times. any growth is good growth for music, its about community not hating on eachother.
    K!!LsWiTcH
    streaming services actually provide artists with a lot of direct revenue. every time a song is streamed or even played on youtube, an artist gets revenue for a public performance although hopefully youre right that maybe musicians will see more attention through this
    Hashbrowns23
    Actually the amount an artists receive from a single stream is slightly less than 1 cent on Spotify. So it takes 100 hundred listens for them to make not even $1. Then also realize that it costs them to produce a track and to feature it on such services. It takes about 5000 hits for an artist to break even per song with Spotify. So, as an artist I need each song to be streamed 5100 times before I make a single dollar! Yeah that sure is a lot of direct revenue... its better than nothing but it hardly counts for anything. http://thenextweb.com/apple/2012/09/03/l...
    tjoflojt
    Yes, but seing as how artist make even less than that, and sometimes even being in debt to the record company after millions of sales, it's still a step up.
    'Merican
    In all honesty, Tyler is really down to earth guy and is a really well rounded musician.
    BledGhostWhite
    Credit where credit's due. He's good at what he does, but their are much better musicians in almost every genre. That being said, if you like what he does, that's cool too. Wouldn't go much further than that though.
    metalheadssuck2
    He makes some of the crappiest music, not to mention hes a complete douche. I dont know which tylor youre talking about.
    'Merican
    Sorry, I'll have to disagree again. He may come off as a huge douche and typical mainstream rapper but typically all of his offensive songs are just final products of him having fun. He does make a lot of what is called "hype music" but if you listen to songs like 'She' or 'Bimmer' (off his upcoming album), you will actually see that he is just a kid at heart and that everything he does is a product from his passion for music.
    Hotnfresh182
    You probably just can't handle how offensive he is because he is hilarious and his raps are weird but that doesn't mean there not good
    jimihendrix6699
    lol your an idiot if you think Tyler and Rhianna are in the same category. get the **** out of here.
    dewitt
    You're an idiot if you don't realize that there is a significant overlap between their fanbases.
    mckenna64
    UniformRecon is right, although I'm not sure Tyler the creator will get all that much. This is an interesting article on how poor smaller bands are paid out. You really do need to have Gangnam Style play counts to get a decent return: http://pitchfork.com/features/articles/8... Album sales are still incredibly important, even thoguh they may not make much, smaller artist do make more than streaming services. People say that smaller bands should just tour, but tours cost bands money so that revenue from album sales really does help get a tour up and running, then they can make more money from touring and merchandise (which also cost money to make).
    rebreh
    You put Tyler the creator on the same scale as Rhianna? Rhianna can move a crap ton of albums and get massive radio air play, Tyler can't even compete commercially with that. IDK, it seems kind of strange that you would mention Tyler as this huge pop star when he is still relatively small
    flaphead325
    Well if they managed to make it shittier with more autotune, then yeah it's renovated! I mean autotune... What an inovation...
    Invicto91
    Maybe the industry hasn't really started making a comeback. With the two anti-piracy that were proposed in 2012 a lot of ppl who didnt really know how the internet works got scared out of their skivvies about torrents and stopped using them so much; while the ppl that weren't proxy-illiterate have already downloaded all the music they want. Leaving those sheeple to go pay $25 for a cd or $15 for a download that they could get for free.
    Face R1pper
    Maybe if people went to real music news sites like Bravewords instead of relying on UG then people would find all of the great music that is being released every week.
    Dynamight
    Damn. I was hoping the music industry would slowly die and give way to free, independent music that's made out of passion for the art rather than greed. Music will always be createdwe don't need an industry.
    dewitt
    Yeah, because as soon as there's not any backing company to at least help support them, musicians will finally be able to survive without food and shelter, which means they'll finally be able to give their music away for free.
    Dynamight
    Yeah, because it's impossible to get a regular job and make music alongside it. I wonder how the thousands of people who make music on their spare time and distribute it for free manage to survivemagic? Get a clue.
    Sakke
    How are you going to promote that album you wrote if you have a job? You still got gigs to do, a lot of them. Most employers don't want to see a really tired guy/girl at work. Getting a regular job has got harder every single year. I've been 9 months unemployed myself and I just might have a chance to get a job soon. But it isn't a real job, more like practice, 9 euros a day, but beats being at home all day.
    Dynamight
    And yet, it's been happening pretty much since the internet went mainstream. Magic!
    Xplorer58
    Youtube is the best thing the internet has given us, simply because of the music exposure we have available to us
    joe4020
    "It is hard to remember a year for the recording industry that has begun with such a palpable buzz in the air" yeah because it was more than 20 years ago
    ironman316
    I personally have downloaded less because of streaming services. Rdio has almost everything I'd ever want and at only $10 a month. Insanely cheaper than buying that many physical cd's. Anything they don't have, I'll either buy from iTunes, or Bandcamp, or download it "illegally" if I either can't find it anywhere else or if I'm broke at the moment - which I'll go back and buy it later. I used to download everything without paying for it. Now I just wait till it's all cheaper lol
    cwm1990
    Do pop culture/ rap groups, or whatever you call secular music these days, even tour anymore? the reason metal is better in my opinion, its not about fame and money. If secular groups wanted to make more money then they should write their own music so they dont have to pay so many people for contributing to a song, every other song features one or six people, thats lame.
    rebreh
    Yes, having six people featured on a song is uber-lame. Where the hell do these bands get off with two guitarist, a bassist, a singer, a keyboardist, and a drummer appearing on the same song. So dumb. Why would you pay to have so many people contribute to a song? Do people even think when they talk crap about other genres of music?
    davidswigert
    So yesterday we read a post about piracy and how the music industry is losing money and today we read how the music industry is growing.. 'murica.
    AlecBeretz
    everyone wants more money and is happy when they get it and they'll bitch when they don't have it.
    DreamGate
    Now that I can legally buy music online. I have forgotten all about ripping cds. Tbh, the only reason I ever ripped cd's is cuz I didnt have the means to buy it online (or even, anywhere else) before. Not from a very tech savvy family.
    ljpfahey
    I don't think ripping CD's is much of the problem. In fact only recently they legalised ripping CDs, as long as it's your CD (if I'm not mistaken). Which was a bizarre law in the first place because it meant it was illegal to put music from a CD on your iPod [There are other quality music devices available]. The bulk of piracy is all online between strangers. Not friends swapping CDs.
    GoToSleep
    The industry is all pop music and has absolutely nothing to do with guitar or good quality music thus I and millions of others don't give a shit about the "industry."
    broken ipod
    Bands like Om use no guitars and yet display a good amount of musical talent and quality. Om is a stoner/doom band that has a bassist/vocalist and a drummer. Are they really bad because they lack a guitar player?
    rebreh
    One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" does feature a prominent guitar part, as does Call Me Maybe and most of Adele's music. Check and Mate sir