For the first time in more than a decade, the music industry saw slight growth from one year to the next. With more people downloading music and employing music streaming sites, the industry saw an increase of 0.3 percent to reach $16.5 billion in 2012.
According to a statement issued by a representative of music labels and reported by Bloomberg Businessweek, the bestselling album of the year was Adele's "21" (the first album to top the global chart for two consecutive years since the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) began reporting worldwide best-sellers in 2001), with the bestselling single honor going to Carly Rae Jepsen for her iconic if irritating "Call Me Maybe."
Digital sales today account for 34 percent of total revenue garnered by the (so-called) record industry, with sales in that realm rising nine percent to reach a total of $5.6 billion, says the IFPI.
The IFPI continued that such digital sales account for most of the revenue accrued by record companies in such countries as the U.S., Norway, Sweden and India.
"These are hard-won successes for an industry that has innovated, battled and transformed itself over a decade," said Frances Moore, chief executive officer at IFPI. "They show how the music industry has adapted to the Internet world, learned how to meet the needs of consumers and monetized the digital marketplace."
Subscribers to music streaming sites — which now reach more than 100 markets worldwide — increased 44 percent to 20 million in 2012, says the IFPI.
Whether coming from digital sales or the traditional product, the meager growth is better than none and a welcome reprieve from years of shortfall for an industry that has seen significant cutbacks due to everything from brick and mortar stores going under to legal wrangles with pirates.
With more streaming sites becoming available for free, New York-based NPD Group saw illegal music file-sharing drop 17 percent, to 11 percent of downloaders doing so illegally.
The IFPI nevertheless feels strongly that in order to reduce further revenue loss to the likes of piracy, streaming and search engine sites need to focus more on eradicating such illegal behavior.
"For the music industry, which has been battling digital piracy for over a decade, last year was a year of progress," said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD. "Among other factors, the increased use of legal and licensed streaming services has proven to be an alternative for music fans."
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