Music Australia News

Celebrate Record Store Day with 5 music retail facts & good Aussie news

image courtesy of recordstore.com.au
Chris Bowen
| April 12, 2016

In the lead up to Saturday’s Record Store Day we’ve assembled five music retail facts to get you thinking, and to motivate enthusiasts to seek out and buy some great music.

Australian music industry revenues finally go up

Australian music retail had a good year last year. Figures released by Australian Recording Industry association (ARIA), showed a 5 percent increase in revenues for Australian recorded music in 2015. This was attributable to big growth in digital streaming, which includes services such as Spotify. The ABC reports, Australian streaming revenues increased from $23 million to $46 million in 2015. ARIA notes this “was the first upwards trend the industry has experienced in its annual wholesale figures since 2012”. This is exciting news and indicates a shift to increased lawful use as consumers embrace digital subscription services.

Vinyl’s resurgence continues

2015 was the tenth year in a row where US vinyl sales increased, as Forbes magazine reports. Over 12 million vinyl albums were sold in the US last year, a 25 percent increase over 2014. Here in Australia there is also good growth, and ARIA reported a 38 per cent increase in vinyl sales in 2015. Now this is relatively small in total volumes, roughly 5 per cent of the total US market, but it’s all physical, and most of it is found in bricks and mortar record stores. “Those that love their records still go out of their way to head to indie stores most frequently” Forbes concludes.

People still buy CDs

CDs, born in 1982, were only eclipsed as the top music seller in 2014, when digital sales finally overtook physical, as international recording association IFPI reports. Yet the volume of CDs still sold worldwide is enormous, with 141 million sold last year in the US alone. But, as The Atlantic points out, the overall trend for CDs continues downward, as do – interestingly – digital downloads. The momentum is increasingly with streaming.

However Billions lost in shift to streaming

This stark point is made clear in a graph illustrating a recent New York Times article which shows an industry plummeting in value, levelling off, and hasn’t really increased since. While the big growth in streaming is positive, it hasn’t translated to substantial revenues, particularly for artists. Their graph shows that the fall in CD sales is the big loser, dropping from $9.4 to $1.5 billion in under ten years. “So far streaming has not saved the music business, and deep worries persist about the model.” To illustrate the same point Digital Music News notes that last year vinyl sales, with a fraction of the market, generated more revenues than a whole bundle of streaming services! Buy that vinyl – it makes a difference!

Bundled music offer new possibilities

With the recorded music industry still in transition, the latest development is bundling music with mobile phones. This trend by telcos emerged in mid 2015, covered well at the time by Bernard Zuel in the SMH. Telstra nows offers a twelve month apple music subscription, bundled into a phone plan.   Now say 5 percent of Telstra’s 16 million subscribers, take up this offer. This could be a game changer.  This was touched up on by APRA AMCOS CEP Brett Cottle in his 2015 Keynote address for Music Australia as we reported here. If Australian music is ready to leap, this could be a fantastic opportunity. Indeed some insiders are suggesting it may even restore music industry revenues lost to digital. We’ll see.

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