Although it may be resilient in the face of macroeconomic uncertainty, the streaming-driven worldwide recorded music business is undoubtedly not immune.

That is the main finding of a recent study from Midia Research, which projects a sharp slowdown in recorded music growth in 2017.

The study, which was released on Thursday (March 16), estimates that global recorded music revenues will hit $31.2 billion in USD in 2022, up just 6.7% YoY.

A few days before the official annual Global Music Report from the record industry body IFPI is released, Midia notes that its projections show a significant decline in growth from the expected 24.8% YoY growth for 2021. (versus 2020).

The IFPI’s own growth estimate for 2021, which it reported in March of last year to be an increase of 18.5% over 2020, is considerably lower than the 6.7% growth estimate for 2022. According to the IFPI, worldwide sales of recorded music totaled $25.9 billion in 2021.

(Midia says that it includes self-releasing artists and production libraries in its estimates, and also includes the merch and expanded rights revenues of labels.)

Commenting on Midia’s estimates for 2022 in a blog post on Thursday, Midia Managing Director, Mark Mulligan, noted that 2022 “was a year of realignment for much of the global economy, and the music business had to contend not only with the wider trend of the cost-of-living crisis, but also rising interest rates softening music catalogue M+A and the long expected streaming slowdown kicking in”.

The “modest” growth that the recorded music market experienced globally in 2022, according to him, “is testament to the recorded music market’s strength that, despite these multiple headwinds,” he said.

Mulligan adds that “the persistent value of music was even more strongly illustrated by music publishing,” according to Midia’s estimate of a 16.6% YoY increase in music publishing in 2022.

As anticipated, streaming continued to be the main factor in the development of the global record industry, with Midia estimating that revenues will increase by 8.3% YoY, or $1.5 billion, to $20 billion in 2022. (see infographic below).

According to Midia’s own projections from the previous year, this was less than half of the $4.2 billion that audio streaming is expected to contribute in 2021.

The slowdown in ad-supported revenues, which Midia claims represents “wider advertising market dynamics,” and the slowing rise of paid subscriptions in developed markets are to blame for this slowdown, according to Midia.

According to Midia, the number of music subscribers increased by a “markedly stronger” 13.7% to 652 million worldwide.

But it also points out that “just a third” of the annual subscriber increase worldwide was accounted for by the more developed regions of North America and Europe.

According to Mulligan of Midia, emerging markets will contribute to global streaming growth to a greater and greater extent; however, because of weaker ARPU and smaller shares of Anglo repertoire, the discrepancy between growth revenue and subscriber growth rates seen in 2022 will stick around for a while.

According to Midia, streaming generated 64.1% of the total revenue for the recorded music business in 2022.

According to Midia’s estimates of the revenues of the three major record labels, Universal Music Group will generate more annual income from recorded music in 2022 than the other two majors. (Sony Music Group and Warner Music Group).

According to Midia, UMG increased its yearly recorded music revenue by $0.5 billion in 2022 to $9.2 billion, giving Universal a 29.5% market share of the industry.

According to Midia’s projections, SMG is expected to acquire an estimated 0.4 points of market share globally in 2022, while UMG’s YoY revenue growth in percentage terms (+6.2%) was slower than Sony Music Group’s (+8.7%).

percentage terms (+6.2%) was slower than Sony Music Group’s (+8.7%).


Midia claims that independent labels and “artists direct” (also known as DIY artists) “strongly out-performed the wider streaming market” in other parts of its report. Revenues from streaming in the two industries increased by 13.9% and 17.9%, respectively, YoY.

According to a Midia, “artists direct” (i.e., artists who release without labels, directly via a distributor) “were the big success story once again,” with their revenues increasing by 16.6% YoY in 2022 to produce $1.78 billion in recorded music revenue.

According to Midia, this increased the segment’s worldwide market share from 5.2% in 2021 to 5.7%.

According to a Midia study, independent labels outgrew the general market as well, increasing their recorded music revenues by 7.1% YoY.

One noteworthy statistic is that, in 2022, ‘artists direct’ revenue + independent label revenue totaled $10.8 billion, exceeding the comparable revenue total of Universal Music Group ($9.2 billion), according to Midia’s calculations.

(Important: Midia makes it clear that when it refers to “independent labels,” it does not include sales from indie labels that are sold by well-known record labels. Instead, the majors’ revenues are included for this income.)

Midia predicts that the total market share of independent labels and the “artists direct” segment will increase to 34.6% in 2022 from its projected 34% in 2021.

Midia does point out that this does not account for extra income from independent labels that major labels distribute.

Commenting on Midia’s estimates, Mark Mulligan writes in his blog post that although “overall market growth was down in 2022 compared to 2021, 2021 was in many respects a year of artificially accentuated, post-Covid growth, while 2022 was at the opposite end of the scale, with a host of economic headwinds.”

“In this context, 6.7% growth for 2022 could be even more of a success than the 24.8% achieved in 2021,” he continued.


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