Physical music sales are drying up ever more quickly - but still aren't being compensated by digital equivalents, according to annual figures from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) umbrella org. Despite global digital sales growing 24.1 percent to $3.78 billion and performance income by 16.2 percent last year, total sales still finished down 8.3 percent at $18.4 billion after a 15.4 percent collapse in physical sales.
The picture is far worse in the US, where physical sales dropped by nearly a third, or around $1 billion. Even with digital growing 16.5 percent to $1.78 billion and performance income a whopping 133 percent, total sales were still down 18.6 percent (the biggest drop in the world) to $4.9 billion
The healthiest music market is still Europe, which, with sales of $7.3 billion, was still down 6.3 percent from the previous year. There, digital grew 36.1 percent to $750 million and physical sales fell back only 11.3 percent to $5.8 billion.
The takeaway - in income terms, the music business is still dangerously dependent on selling bits of plastic. Some 75 percent of global sales are still physical, against just four percent digital. Though that tips to two-thirds physical against one-third digital in the US, after stripping out emerging nations, it's still clear why the business is so keen to stamp out piracy if it is ever going to reach its digital tipping point.
By Robert Andrews