Reports Music

Recorded Music Market 2018 Stream Engine

Report by Mark Mulligan
Cover image for Recorded Music Market 2018
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The 20,000 Foot View:  For the fourth consecutive year, recorded music revenues grew again in 2018 with streaming revenue the engine room of growth. For the first time, streaming became the majority of label revenue and its growth continues to outpace the decline of legacy formats. Major label rankings remained unchanged in 2018 but the majors enjoyed varying fortunes and the continued meteoric rise of artists direct, i.e. artists without record labels, points to market transforming changes that are reshaping the entire business of record labels.

Key Findings

  • Global recorded music revenues reached        billion, up        billion from 2017
  • Streaming was the key driver of growth, up        year-on-year to reach        billion, representing        of all label revenues
  • Legacy formats (physical and downloads) were down        billion, which was more than the        billion lost in 2017
  • Universal Music remained the largest label group in 2018 with annual revenues of        billion, followed by Sony Music        billion) and Warner Music        billion)
  • Universal added more revenue than any other label group:        billion, an increase of        well above the market average of       
  • Artists direct was the fastest growing segment again, increasing by        to reach        billion
  • Independent labels generated        million, in part reflecting independent revenue distributed by major labels
  • Universal and Warner Music both gained        points of market share, up to        and        respectively
  • As in 2017, artists direct was the biggest market share gainer, up        points to       
  • Independent labels collectively accounted for        in 2018, down        points on 2017

Companies and brands mentioned in this report: Apple, CD Baby, Sony Music, Tencent Music Entertainment, Tunecore, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group

Methodological notes: 

       All revenue values referenced in this report are in USD with all conversions from local currencies calculated taking the average quarterly exchange rate for each quarter of the year. No constant currency values are used in this report.

       Independent revenue is measured on a distribution basis, not an ownership basis. Therefore, independent revenue that is distributed via a major record label or a wholly owned major label distributor will appear in the revenue of the respective major record label.

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