The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, known more commonly today simply as IFPI, released its annual global music sales report yesterday that finds that digital music sales are growing, echoing a trend also seen in the past few years. And while overall music sales are still declining, the decline is less severe than it was in the previous year.
IFPI, a music organization, reported that digital revenue grew by 8 percent in 2011, as compared to 3 percent in 2010. This puts the total value of the global digital music market at $5.2 billion, which is an increase from the $4.8 billion it was worth the previous year. The report by the international music association called the growth of the digital music business “unprecedented,” and credits the revenue increase, in part, to the growing success and widespread use of digital streaming music services like Spotify and Rhapsody, as well as new cloud service by iTunes and Amazon, among others.
The report states that major digital services were present in 58 countries at the end of 2011, as opposed to 23 countries at the beginning of the year. The number of paying subscribers also increased dramatically over the year, up 65 percent to 13.4 million around the world. Additionally, the revenues also resulted from the rise of single track downloads (up 11 percent), as well as digital album sales (up 24 percent). For the first time, more than half of record company revenue in the United States is from digital sales, which account for 52 percent of recorded music revenue. As a comparison, 71 percent of revenue in China comes from digital sales.
Overall, the total revenue generated by the music industry was down 3 percent, from $16.7 billion to $16.2 billion. But, this represents a much better number than the 8-9 percent drop the industry faced the year before. In a statement, IFPI CEO Frances Moore summed up the optimism he said the report contained about the upcoming year.
“As we enter 2012, there are good reasons for optimism in the world of digital music,” he said. “Legal services with expanding audiences have reached across the globe and consumer choice has been revolutionized. Meanwhile momentum is building in the fight against piracy as governments and a growing circle of intermediaries engage with our industry.”
In the last part of the statement, Moore references new anti-piracy acts enacted by some governments, including the controversial anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA that had been moving through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate before being placed on hold last week.
The report notes that France has introduced a graduated anti-piracy act called the Hadopi law that “has been successfully implemented and research shows it is having an impact on consumer behavior and on digital sales.” The report also notes that digital album sales in the U.S. grew by 19 percent, while albums sales in France increased 71 percent.
Both the SOPA and the PIPA bills were put on hold in their respective houses of Congress late last week, due in large part because of public outcry after large media websites like Wikipedia and Google voiced strong displeasure with the laws.