Taylor Swift Sock Appreciation

The Money in Music

In her introduction to the IFPI annual Global Music Report, which covers 2019, IFPI chief executive Francis Moore writes, “. . .it was originally drafted prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic.” Presumably there is a bit of an acknowledgement on Ms. Moore’s part that while the 2019 stats are past, they are not necessarily prologue: who knows what the future will bring?

While some of the stats aren’t particularly surprising, as in, predicated on consumption in the forms of streaming, downloads, and physical formats, Taylor Swift is the #1 IFPI Global Recording Artist of 2019, there are some numbers that are a bit strange. For example, in 2019 synchronization revenue—which is that derived from the use of music in advertising, film, games, and TV—was up 5.8%, accounting for 2.4% of all revenue in 2019, or $500,000,000 (U.S.). Ten years ago this metric didn’t even exist (or the amount of money was microscopic to measure).

What is someone more unusual, however, is that of the 10 on that list of the tops, there are two that no longer exist as they were known to be when they gained the traction necessary to make them on the top-10 list: Queen (#5)—and there is a picture of the band including Freddie Mercury not Adam Lambert—and the Beatles #10). I wonder how Ariana Grande (#6) feels about being nudged out. Much of the strength for Queen and the Beatles is probably predicated on their performance in the global top albums, where Bohemian Rhapsody was #6 and Abbey Road #10.

The #1 global album in 2019? A greatest hits album by Arashi, a Japanese boy band, 5×20 All the BEST!! 1999-2019. One can only think that in order to be a boy band with that longevity there were musician changes like a revolving door.

(It is worth noting that there is something to be said for the power of boy bands. Number 3 on the global top 10 album list is Map of the Soul: Persona, by BTS, the Korean boy band. That album sold 2.5-million units. Arashi sold significantly more, 3.3-million. And what was in the middle? Taylor Swift’s Lover, at 3.2-million.)

One highly encouraging sign in the IFPI study is that music revenue revenues are on the upswing. From 2001 (when Arashi was in its sophomore phase) there was a fairly steady decline in global revenues. In 2001 the total take was $23.4-billion. That figure was down to $14-billion in 2014. Then the fortunes reversed and in in 2019 the global revenues were up to $20.2-billion. The last time there was a number close to that was in 2004, when the figure was $20.3-billion.

In 2001, physical media accounted for $22.9-billion of the total, with performance rights accounting for the remaining $0.6-billion. Not surprisingly, the revenues from physical media has shown a decline resembling a right triangle. In 2019 physical media accounted for $4.4-billion of the total, or about 22% of the total $20.2 billion spend.

The greatest amount of money was spent on streaming, at $11.4-billion. What is a bit surprising is that the download market is in the process of collapse: in 2019 the amount of revenue from downloading, $1.5-billion, was less than half of what it had been just three years prior, $3.2-billion in 2016.
Although there are closings and bankruptcies abounding right now, just a few months ago things were looking up for the music industry.

Still, you may recall that the global economy took a tumble back in 2008 and 2009, and while the revenue in 2008 was less than 2007—from $18 billion to $16.7 billion—and down in 2009 to 15.6 million, those years weren’t the worst for the decade. So perhaps while 2020 won’t continue the rise, here’s hoping that it won’t take a precipitous fall.

Image via British Vogue via Taylor Swift’s instagram.

Leave a Reply