MBW shares some not-so-great numbers about music played on streaming services - there are 67.1 million tracks on music streaming services that, in the 2022 calendar year, attracted 10 or fewer streams apiece, globally. These 67.1 million songs represent 42% of the entire catalog of tracks available on streaming services - there are 158 million tracks on streaming platforms. Nearly a quarter (24%), or approximately 38 million tracks attracted - zero plays in 2022.

There were 589 million users of paid subscription accounts at the end of 2022, according to IFPI, the organization that represents the recorded music industry worldwide, MBW reports. This means that 7% of the world's population has a paid music subscription account. Global recorded music revenues grew 9% year over year in 2022, to reach $26.2 billion, IFPI's also noted in their Global Music Report 2023. Streaming continues to be the driving force behind the overall growth. Subscription audio streaming revenues increased by 10.3% year over year to $12.7 billion in 2022, with total streaming - including both paid subscription and advertising-supported - grew by 11.5% YoY to reach $17.5 billion in 2022, and accounted for 67% of total global recorded music revenues. Last year marked the global music market’s eighth consecutive year of growth.

According to Spotify's latest Loud and Clear report, 14,700 DIY artists generated $10,000 across recorded music and publishing royalties on the service in 2022, MBW reports. This means that DIY artists comprised approximately 25.8% of the subset of 57,000 artists who generated $10k+ on Spotify in 2022. However, compared to the previous year, the news isn't that good. In 2021, Spotify helped 15,140 DIY artists generate over $10,000.

Global recorded music revenues grew 6.7% year over year in 2022 to reach $31.2 billion, according to a new report from Midia Research. This marked a significant drop in estimated 24.8% YoY growth for 2021 versus 2020, MBW reports. Streaming accounted for 64.1% of all recorded music industry revenues in 2022, with revenues estimated by Midia to have grown 8.3% YoY, or by $1.5 billion, to $20 billion in 2022.

"Can't make a living" doesn't really resonate
March 16, 2023

First Floor: Streaming should pay more, but how?

"No matter how much cost cutting Spotify and the other streaming companies do, there’s likely only one way for them to increase revenue to a point where significantly higher streaming payouts would be possible: raising prices... Artists need consumers to pay more for streaming, but here’s the question that even the harshest streaming critics often refuse to ask: what if they don’t want to?" - music writer Shawn Reynaldo asks the ultimate question in his latest newsletter. "Consumers didn’t create this system, but in 2023, they are accustomed to it, and if their current spending habits are any indication, they don’t seem terribly bothered by how streaming has negatively impacted artists or larger musical landscape."

The MBW breaks down the numbers Spotify shared in their Loud & Clear report about how much it pays in royalties, and to whom. The number of artists generating $50,000 or more a year stood at 17,800 in 2022, up by 1,300 from the prior year. However, in 2021, that same category grew year-on-year by 3,100, more than double its rate of increase in 2022. The $50k is the amount "generated" by artists, their royalties will inevitably be reduced once they’ve paid their distributor/publishing admin company/publisher/record company a fee, commission, recoupment charge, etc. Still, it's a monthly paycheck allowing the musician a decent living from cre

Spotify revealed on their Stream On event that through December 31, 2022, it had paid more than €34 billion in royalties to record labels, music publishers, and other rights holders since launch, MBW reports. In 2021 the streaming giant paid €7+ billion, which was up from €5+ billion in 2020, which means it will likely reach the €40 billion benchmark this year. Spotify says that “nearly 70%” of every dollar it generates from music “is paid back as royalties to rightsholders, who then pay the artists and songwriters, based on the agreed terms”. Spotify also revealed that in 2022, as many as 10,100 artists from over 100 countries worldwide generated at least $100,000, and 1,060 artists generated more than $1 million.

Lucian Grainge

Music streaming has been the driving force behind the recorded music industry’s return to growth after roughly 15 years of declines. According to IFPI, the global recorded music streaming revenue has increased from ~$0 in 2004 to ~$17 billion in 2021, which is equivalent to the size of the entire global recorded music market in 2008. Universal's CEO Sir Lucian Grainge sent a New Year memo saying the economic model needs to evolve. Jimmy Stone explains why Grainge believes it's time for a change.

Stream me to the end of dance
February 22, 2023

5 Mag on how the majority of dance music today isn't really danceable

"Streaming music has cultivated a new breed of creators who seem to be totally in the dark about what a DJ does in the first place. As a result we have what’s almost a new format of music that broadly fits into the parameters of club music, but will almost certainly never be played in a club — or by any DJ at all" - 5 Mag looks into the issue of dance music today being made for the purpose of being streamed, rather than danced to. "A fairly large number of people who declare themselves making deep house and techno are doing so in ignorance of DJ culture, with music that is almost hostile to DJing".

"The labels are in a constant tug of war with digital streaming providers, who would rather their users listen to tracks that are cheaper to license, or podcasts with zero marginal costs. Artists feel like they can’t break through. Everyone feels squeezed" - Trapital's Dan Runcie points out in his latest memo as he's thinking about the music industry’s business model. "Music is always the first tech medium to be disrupted, but its companies are often the last to adapt to the changes. It could be time to flip that narrative, and it’s better late than never... Any significant change starts with the record labels" - Runcie believes, and offers a few ideas.

Thank you for the 10% percent
January 20, 2023

Amazon Music raises price from $9.99 to $10.99

Amazon Music is raising its standard individual Amazon Music Unlimited monthly subscription price from $9.99 to $10.99 in the US, and from £9.99 to £10.99 in the UK, Engadget reports. Amazon's Student Plan is going from $/£4.99 to $/£5.99 per month in each respective territory. Amazon is also increasing equivalent pricing in Germany and Japan. Apple Music announced late last year that it was upping its standard monthly subscription price from USD $9.99 to $10.99 in the US, and GBP £9.99 to £10.99 in the UK. Spotify for now refuses to do the same.

"Every digital streaming provider has a treasure trove of data on their deep catalogs and how their users interact with each song. This same data, along with their relentless A/B testing, has upped the effectiveness of personalized algorithms to keep users on the platform" - Trapital's Dan Runcie points out in his latest memo. He talked to Ari Herstand, an independent artist, course instructor, and author, who believes that algorithmic shift works in favor of independent artists who may not have the ear of the top playlist editors, but have a better chance to show up in one of your Spotify Mixes. It’s a numbers game, and numbers games benefit indies who are less reliant on gatekeepers.

"There were a lot of samples and things that needed to be taken care of. It was long, but it wasn’t grueling. What’s great is that a lot of these owners, writers, and publishers were De La Soul fans, and they had publicly understood what was going on" - De La Soul's Posdnous says in the Billboard interview about his band's music finally coming to streaming platforms. It was frustrating to be absent from the digital media: "It almost felt like we were being erased from history, because our music wasn’t up".

It all started promising. In July last year, a UK cross-Parliamentary committee called for a “complete reset” of music streaming following an inquiry into the economics of streaming. Some lobbyists in the UK music business suggested that artists and songwriters weren’t pocketing enough money from streaming services, and accused certain music companies of holding on to outsized profits from royalties. The final 165-page report came as a cold shower, saying that it has not “found evidence of substantial and sustained excess profits by the majors that could be competed away to benefit consumers, for example through more investment in music”. MBW reports on the outc

"One of the most dramatic impacts that streaming has had on the record industry is been the democratization of listening" - Music Business Worldwide underlined a phenomenon that has happened in pop music in the streaming decade. The outgoing CEO of Warner Music Group, Steve Cooper puts it clearly, in numbers: “A decade ago, our Top 5 artists generated over 15% of our recorded music physical and digital revenue. In 2022, they generated just over 5%”. It's not just a decline in share of revenue; it’s a decline in actual revenue generated - Warner Music Group’s Top 5 recorded music artists in FY2012 look likely to have cumulatively generated a larger sum of annual digital and physical royalties (≈$274.5m) than WMG’s equivalent Top 5 artists generated in FY2022 (≈$193.4m). WMG’s overall recorded music royalties more than doubled in that period - $1.83bn in FY2012 vs. $3.87bn in FY2022. "As a result, in any given year, an ever-greater share of total streams is drifting away from the Top 10 biggest hits, and towards a much wider array of ‘middle class’ artists with significant, but not necessarily chart-bursting, fanbases" - MBW points out.

Universal Music Group-owned Deutsche Grammophon just launched its own high-resolution classical music streaming service called STAGE+. The subscription for the service will cost EUR €14.90 per month, or €149 per year. UMG thusly becomes the latest major record company to launch its own music streaming service, following the 2019 launch of Sony's high-resolution music streaming service Mora Qualitas in Japan. Also, classical music is rising in popularity amongst younger listeners, used to modern services

Dedicated music listeners are quitting streaming services trying to grapple with the unethical economics of streaming companies, and feel the effects of engagement-obsessed, habit-forming business models on their own listening and discovery habits - Guardian looks into the change of music hearts. “With streaming, things were starting to become quite throwaway and disposable. If I didn’t gel with an album or an artist’s work at first, I tended not to go back to it” - says Finlay Shakespeare, Bristol-based musician and audio engineer who quit his streaming service account, after he realised that a lot of his all-time favourite albums were ones that grew on him over time. “Streaming was actually contributing to some degree of dismissal of new music.” The G suggests six ways to find new music…

MBW investigated a curious case of an obscure artist/record label, variously known as Diversify and Variegate, who was/were profiting by purposely tagging big-name artists as primary collaborators, thus reaching said artists’ fanbases via algorithmic music delivery systems like Spotify’s Release Radar? "One suspects DSPs will eventually offer some widespread form of 'profile locking' that prevents fake uploads. But until then,  highly inventive 'artists' can  drive millions of streams – conservatively earning tens of thousands of dollars each – from the distribution of songs with intentionally incorrect metadata".

ces by Pitchfork's Jeremy D. Larson: "As one of nearly half a billion people who pay a small fee to rent the vast majority of the history of recorded music—not to mention the 2 billion people per month who use YouTube for free—I have found that, after more than a decade under the influence, it has begun to reshape my relationship with music. I’m addicted to a relationship that I know is very bad for me. I know I am addicted to Spotify the same way I was addicted to nicotine or Twitter. It makes me happy, aggrieved, needlessly defensive". However - "the beauty of the algorithm of your mind is that it makes perfect sense to no one but yourself".

No physical medium required at the customer interface. A wide selection of songs available for instant listening. Music choices made by the user, not some corporation or station manager - a quite correct description of a streaming service. However, it's a business started in 1939 by Seattle inventor Ken Shyvers. Ted Gioia goes back in time.

"Indie artists like Roc Marciano, R.A.P. Ferreira, and more have incorporated DSP-sidestepping, direct-to-consumer models for years. But now, some mainstream artists like Kanye West, who is selling 'Donda 2' on his $200 Stem Player, are divesting from DSPs, and the reaction to it has been a mixed bag" - Complex goes on to question the motives of artists pulling their music from the big three streaming platforms.

Pirates of the stream
February 03, 2022

Music piracy grew last year, after 5 years of decline

Music piracy declined consistently year-on-year from January 2017 - there was a 65% decrease in music-related piracy visits globally in 2021 compared to 2017. Then, last year, a change - there was a 2.18% increase in 2021 compared to 2020, and an 18.6% increase in Q4 2021 compared to Q4 2020. MBW looks for reasons. The No.1 online destination for music piracy is so called ‘stream-ripping’ websites, which allow users to rip and download audio from YouTube, and which accounted for 39.2% of all music piracy globally in 2021, up from 33.9% in 2020.

"In the digital era, when everything seems to be a single click away, it’s easy to forget that we have long had physical relationships with the pieces of culture we consume. The way we interact with something — where we store it — also changes the way we consume it, as Spotify’s update made me realize. Where we store something can even outweigh the way we consume it" - Kyle Chayka writes in an essay about the meaning of collections in a time of digital music. "While we have the advantage of freedom of choice, the endless array of options often instills a sense of meaninglessness: I could be listening to anything, so why should any one thing be important to me?".

Somebody not doing their job
September 23, 2021

UK government refuses to solve the paying for music streaming problem

Music Business Worldwide does a great job analysing the UK government's inaction about the payment for music streaming issues. In July, the UK parliament's Department of Culture, Media & Sport Committee published a report which called for government action on a number of music industry issues regarding streaming payouts. The standout recommendation from the DCMS report was that the majors’ dominance of the UK record industry be referred to the UK’s competition watchdog – the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA). The UK government response was less than lame - it has declined to announce any legislative measures, and has also not officially referred the issue of major label-dominance to the CMA.

Anghami is a music streaming service based in the Middle East, namely Abu Dhabi, serving mostly the Middle East. "It has 70 million registered users and nearly 60 million songs in its library. It’s also set to be the first Arab tech startup to go public on New York’s Nasdaq stock exchange. Anghami’s trajectory has also been something of a case study in how the global music industry is being slowly transformed from outside its core centers of New York, Los Angeles, and London". Rest of the World brings the whole story.

Streaming gives the artists an opportunity to break out from obscurity, but makes it exponentially more difficult to have a follow-up hit. That’s because like so many other viral hits, the song, not the artist, became the asset - Vox writer Charlie Harding says in an interesting essay about the artist and the album in the age of never-ending flow of music. “Streaming is a great way to make an artist faceless” - says Lucas Keller, the CEO of the entertainment management company Milk & Honey, who adds - “the song becomes bigger than the artist”. Emily Warren, who has written hits for Dua Lipa and the Chainsmokers among many others, said that she knows songwriters with hundreds of millions of streams and Grammy nominations who still drive Uber for a living. But she says that a songwriter with just two big radio hits is set up to retire.

Streaming music services Apple Music and Amazon Music are upping their audio game with their various versions of High-Res Audio, and Global News argues, however, this is not all good news. A critical listen will reveal that the vocals get lost in the mix, reducing the singer to just another part of the song, fighting for attention with all the instrumentation. How many people will even notice the better audio since the last couple of generations of music fans were brought up on MP3s, often heard over boomy headphones, cheap earbuds, or laptop speakers. Also, fans won’t hear anything with wireless headphones since the signal requires more bandwidth than Bluetooth can provide, and iPhones and a few other Android units don’t come with headphone jacks anymore.

The World Intellectual Property Organization, a United Nations agency tasked with the protection and promotion of intellectual property, issued a lengthy report Artists in the Digital Music Marketplace, where its authors Chris Castle and Claudio Feijoo took a clear stand: "Why does everyone in the streaming economy seem to be prospering except performers whose work drives it all?". The report recommends a new streaming music royalty that would be paid directly to "performers (and potentially to producers)" without going through labels or publishers.

Universal Music Group’s total revenues hit $2.20 billion in Q1, up 9.4% year-on-year. MBW does a breakdown of that number - $2.20bn quarterly turnover was equivalent to $24.5m a day, or $1m an hour. The star of the period, expectedly, was streaming - it generated $1.23bn, up 19.6% year-on-year.

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