The people at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have released what might sound like some very, very good news for people in the entertainment industry. At least some of them. According to a just-released report from the consultancy, “Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2003-2007, North America (with Global Overview),” a title that’s as unwieldy as the name of the firm, global spending for entertainment and media will rise in 2003 3.7% over 2002, to reach $1.1 trillion. Then, based on a 4.8% compound annual growth rate, it will hit $1.4 trillion by ’07. People at the record companies ought to be dancing and singing at this present moment, right?
Well, they might as well continue with the “Ring Around the Rosy”—”ashes, ashes, we all fall down”—because things don’t look all that prosperous for them.
That is, specific segments that are indicated include television, radio, and out-of-home advertising, all of which, taken in light of the FCC ruling earlier this week on media company cross-ownership, ought to make most of the people at Viacom and Clear Channel deliriously happy.
According to PwC, video games will get hotter. Satellite radio will get a boost. DVDs will continue to fly off the shelves. Broadcast television will get healthier. Hell, even Internet advertising will experience “a resurgence.” Yet the announcement carries nary a word about the music industry. It is undoubtedly in the report. But it isn’t notable enough to be noted.
But perhaps this Biblically-enhanced quote from Kevin Carton, global leader of the PwC Entertainment & Media Practice, contains a message that would be heard loud and clear by the beleaguered music industry execs: “Essentially, digital adoption both giveth and taketh away. New products and services generated by digital technology and broadband will drive market growth. However, in the near term, digitization will cannibalize existing revenues and piracy threatens new digital content business models.”
Which might be interpreted as: (1) More people are going to get broadband connections and (2) broadband connections mean faster music downloads.
Digging deeper into the music scenario, PwC actually sees a decrease in spending on recorded music during the next three years but a “rebound” in ’06-07. Of course, how many labels will be around by then? The firm also projects 4-million subscribers to digital music in ’07. (See the cannibalization comment, above, however.)
There is a cautionary note, however for those who are interested in new music, and not necessarily that proffered on a general basis. According to the PwC announcement, “In terms of category shifts, the current economic environment favors media with a broader demographic audience reach.” In other words, the lowest common denominator. Niches don’t matter when the letter “t” precedes “-illion.” As PwC puts it, “In the U.S., the migration of sales to mass retailers will limit the availability of back catalog recordings and impede new artist development.” Support your local independent music stores—and musicians. Otherwise we’ll all be humming an Orwellian tune.