So what really happened to the music industry – in data?

broken LP record

We all know the story of the music industry decline, but what do the numbers really tell us? Is the financial disruption as bad as we imagine? It seems there’s never been a time when more music has been consumed. Well, it turns out that downloads and streaming isn’t doing much to reclaim lost revenue from the vinyl and CD sales. Here’s some mind blowing data as to how heavy the industry loses have been over the past 10 years. (source RIAA).

10 years ago Now
Recorded music sales $16 billion

$6.9 billion

All streaming sales Nil

$1.5 billion

Download sales $250 million

$2.8 billion

CD sales $15 billion

$2.5 billion

The numbers show total revenues have more than halved. And it is also clear the revenue gap is not being filled by new low cost distribution methods of music. It seems as though the glory days of the ‘recorded music’ business shall never return.

We may even re-enter an age of Medieval Minstrels – where musicians all need to sing for the their supper, and the recorded version is the sample of a high paid live performance. But most of all, some industries, just like plants are seasonal, and not perennials. They have a brief moment of blossoming brilliance which will never be repeated. It pays to recognise when we might be in a such an industry.

New book – The Great Fragmentation – out now!

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