By Emmanuel Legrand
British record companies generated £1.069 billion ($1.33bn) in revenues in 2019, up 7.3% year-over-year, according to the UK's trade organisation the BPI. This is the highest annual amount since 2006, when the combined total was £1.16bn. It is the fourth fourth consecutive year of growth registered by the BPI.
Streaming income grew 21.8% at £628.9m and was the main driver of growth. Streaming-generated revenues now make up the majority (58.8%) of record label trade income.
Within streaming, subscription services brought in £568.8m, up 21.7%, ad-supported audio streaming revenues were up by 29.7% to £24.7m, and video streaming revenues also grew by 18.8% to £35.3m.
Physical revenues were down 10.4% to £215.8m, with CDs down 19.8% to £141.7m, and vinyl up 16.1% with revenues of £66.3m, accounting for 6.2% of overall industry income. Downloads were down 28.7% to £58.1m. Sync revenues were up 11.1% to £28.3m.
Physical formats still healthy
“Whilst mainstream music consumption is now largely digital, physical formats continue to enjoy a healthy, complementary relationship with streaming as a valued part of the music eco-system,” said the BPI.
In addition, revenues form the public performance of recordings (neighbouring rights) were up 4.4% to £137.4m. BPI calculates record labels income with the combined revenues from streaming, sales of music across physical and download formats, public performance rights, and sync.
Time for a new partnership with government
BPI noted that the continuing growth in revenues “is welcomed,” but expressed concerns about “structural factors that are holding back the recorded sector from realising its full potential to reclaim the peak levels of two decades ago.” In particular, BPI & BRITAwards Chief Executive Geoff Taylor pointed out the discrepancy (or “value gap”) between revenues from paid streaming subscription and revenues from video streaming services (read YouTube), generating only just over half the income produced by vinyl records.
“British music faces intense competition at home and abroad, is undervalued by some tech platforms and is undermined by widespread illegal sites. In fact, total revenues remain more than a fifth below the post-Millennium peak recorded in 2001. It is time for a new partnership with Government to unleash the full potential of our music industry to benefit our culture and our economy,” said Taylor.