After five years of dismal sales and much blaming of online pirates for the demise of the modern music industry, there is a glimmer of hope – at least in the UK. In 2009, the UK music business experienced a 4.7 percent increase in revenue, which translates to £3.9 billion, or $US 6.2 billion dollars. An impressive gain, to be sure. What is behind the increase?
Two major factors combined to make 2009 a successful year, despite a downward trend and despite gloomy forecasts.
- Sales of recorded music and concert tickets grew 4.8 percent (to $4.6 billion/£2.9 billion)
- Business-to-business revenue, which includes royalty collections, licensing deals, advertising, and sponsorship increased 4.4 percent (to $1.5 billion/ £967)
PRS Music’s chief economist, Will Page, says, “Strong growth in international licensing revenues, a robust live music industry, and signs of stabilisation in the recorded sector have helped produce these impressive results. Underpinning this is a drive by the industry to develop new sources of income from the online market.”
According to the Guardian, summer festivals in the UK have also helped sales; revenues from festivals grew by 9.4 percent. The UK is hoping to learn from the mistakes of the US music industry, where lackluster concert ticket sales for even big-name acts are the norm. This sector of the US music industry fell 17 percent from the previous year. Page says, “The live party is not over, but it is starting to cool down. The good news is that the live sector is already innovating in ways that are as impressive as the digital sector.”
These figures show an increase from 2008 to 2009. 2010’s numbers appear to be stagnating, but as Page points out, “Flat is the new up.”
It is interesting to note that UK’s increase in live music revenue is due largely to big-name acts. In fact, according to some sources, about 40 pubs close each week, slowly erasing the forum in which new bands gain experience and a following. This, too, is a pattern we’ve seen in the US, as many venues opt to forgo live music because of licensing concerns.
Needed to keep gains from 2009 from evaporating, according to Page, is more collaboration among those in the industry, as well as the development of new ways to harness the power of digital music, including social media.