Indie Labels

How Germany Reversed Global Music’s Death Spiral To Grow Last Year

image from There has been so much written about the global decline in music sales that any good news deserves examination. The German music business finally delivered some this week. It’s been a long, painful slide for the recorded music there too, but unlike almost everywhere else, Germany's record business is showing measurable signs of growth.

First-half revenue from physical and digital music formats rose to a total value of €660 million, up 1.5% compared to the first-half of 2012, according to the Assn. of the German Music Industry (BVMI). It’s the first uptick in the German recorded music market for more than 10 years.

The largest gains were in digital. Revenue from downloads and music streaming grew by 16% in the first half, offsetting the 2.5% decline in shipments of physical recordings. Though the popularity of physical soundcarriers continues to diminish, the rate has slowed significantly compared to previous years.

“Music usage is shifting to digital formats, but unlike in many other markets, here in Germany this shift is not occurring at the expense of the overall market, but indicates a market diversification with positive portents,” comments Florian Drücke, managing director of the BVMI, in a statement.

CDs goldPhysical recordings still form the backbone of the German recorded music industry. The BVMI reports that 75.5% of revenue came from physical product. The CD is still the No. 1 format – by a distance. The CD format slipped in value by 2.7% but still accounts for 67.5% of all recorded music revenue. Vinyl continued its niche-market comeback, which began in 2006. Shipments of vinyl increased by more than 30% year-on-year, and the format now represents 1.8% of the total market.

Digital music accounted for a quarter of first-half revenues. The download business grew 5.3% year-on-year and now generates some 20% of the market’s sales. The relatively young market segment of streaming (subscriptions and ad-funded) doubled in value and is now 4.6% of the market.

“Music is back-again – not least of all in economic terms,” Frank Briegmann, president Central Europe, Universal Music Group International and Deutsche Grammophon tells Billboard. “There is virtually no technology vendor of platform operator who can afford to do without an attractive offer of music. After a period in which the main focus was on technological innovation, content is king again. At the same time, music is not only attractive legal content which is available on the net and elsewhere but has also become an interesting investment again.”   

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  1. It is still shrinking! Current inflation rate in Germany is at almost 3%.
    No reason for excitement.
    What we really need is just three years of 25% growth.
    It will double the business to 32 billions.
    Very simple task with existing, unnoticed by labels and musicians resources.
    Just limit info on radio displays and convert over one billion users of Shazam, Soundhound, Gracenote and lyrics ID guys to mandatory TOLLBOOTH between radio and free YouTube, Spotify etc. I call it discovery moment monetization.
    At 39 cents a tune we will double the business within three years. Next stage with creation of Central Music Bank will take us to 100 billions a year.
    Radio stations have to be converted to music stores (I repeat MUSIC STORES) –
    Traditional, satellite and internet radios provide 75 to 85% of discovery!
    It will improve playlists (no more same staff over and over) and bring cash to all.

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