23 Music Industry Statistics: 2024 Sales, Trends & More

Music Industry Statistics

The music industry is always evolving. That’s why you should do everything to gather as much information so that you’re never left behind. And this is especially true for those working in the industry.

In this post, you’ll find the latest music industry statistics that you need to know. Given how much the Covid-19 pandemic changed the world, you might want to know how the music industry is faring right now.

Did the pandemic change the way people consume music for the better or worse? 

Let’s find out:

Music industry statistics – editor’s picks

  • Pop is still the biggest music genre globally. (2021 IFPI Engaging With Music Report)
  • 3% increase in full-time employment in the music industry. (State of the Nation Music Education 2017)
  • The concert business was estimated to lose billions because of Covid-19. (Rolling Stone)

General music industry statistics and facts

The good news is that the global music industry is continuing to grow despite all the challenges it’s facing right now. But it is evolving. There’s still a place for physical media but it’s all about digital music platforms now. 

Even TikTok is finding ways to avoid copyright violations since music is such an integral part of its operations. And experts in the industry are looking at ways to generate more revenue — some are even exploring the possibility of using NFTs.

Here now are some general industry statistics and facts about the music industry.

1. Pop is still the biggest music genre globally.

Pop is still the biggest music genre globally

After its survey of 43,000 respondents, the 2021 IFPI Engaging With Music Report concluded that pop is the most favorite genre globally.

In the top ten are the genres rock, 90s, 80s, soundtracks, hip-hop, r&b, dance, 70s, and soul.

Some countries also enjoy specific music genres. For instance, video game soundtracks are big in Canada. Poland has disco polo. In South Korea, they listen to K-trot. And Japan has Vocaloid.

Source: 2021 IFPI Engaging With Music Report

2. Sony Music signed a licensing deal with TikTok.

Sony Music signed a licensing deal with TikTok

TikTok users know just how important music is to the platform. However, with streaming sites like Twitch discouraging their users from using copyrighted music, TikTok creators are second-guessing their use of music.

Well, they can now breathe a sigh of relief thanks to a deal between Sony and TikTok.

TikTok users can now upload videos without having to worry about potential copyright strikes thanks to the social media platform’s licensing deal with Sony Music.

Of course, TikTok users have always used licensed music from their videos. But with the agreement, they’ll be able to avoid any legal ramifications which can encourage users to upload more videos.

Source: Social Media Today

3. Music has a big impact on the UK’s economy.

Music has a big impact on the UK’s economy

People cannot underestimate the power that music can have on an economy. The UK knows first-hand just how vital it is. 

The State of the Nation Music Education 2017 report states that the music industry has a big impact on the UK economy. It generates £4.5 billion gross value with £2.6 billion total export revenue.

Full-time employment in the music industry is 14,581 which is up by 3% from 2016.

Source: State of the Nation Music Education 2017

4. The music industry banded together for Blackout Tuesday.

The music industry banded together for Blackout Tuesday

Tragic events can bring us all together. And when the need arises, even the music industry will pull itself together in solidarity. This is exactly what happened after the death of George Floyd.

Record labels, music publishers, and music streaming platforms banded together for Blackout Tuesday, a one-day moratorium on business as usual to protest the death of George Floyd.

The campaign was launched by two black female executives in the recording industry — Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas. They want to empower and protect Black communities by challenging an industry that benefited and profited from Black art.

Source: NPR

5. 2021 was a great year for music.

26% increase in global on-demand audio song streams

Despite the pandemic, 2021 was a great year for the music industry. After all, it did beat 2020’s numbers on several key metrics.

The only metric that 2021’s numbers failed to beat 2020 in is global digital song sales and US digital album sales.

The global on-demand audio song stream numbers for 2020 is 2.17 trillion. However, 2021 saw 2.74 trillion streams. That’s a +26.3% change. The total album consumption in the US is also up (802.5 million vs. 893.1 million — an +11.3% change). 

Source: MRC Year-End Report US 2021

6. The music industry has a lot to learn from K-Pop and South Korea.

The South Korean music invasion is not a fluke. And by the looks of things, its music scene could continue to grow in the coming years.

BTS and Blackpink were the biggest artists of 2020. On top of that, K-Pop became a profitable musical export for South Korea. In 2019, K-Pop amounted to $578 million. BTS made $18 million from ticket sales alone.

One of the reasons why the music business is thriving in South Korea is that Korean artists don’t have to deal with the stigma around the idea of being a musician — something Western artists still have to deal with.

In South Korea, there’s no concern over artists being “too produced” or commercialized.

Source: Musically

7. NFTs could be the future of the music industry.

NFTs are not just great for visual artists. According to experts, NFTs could have an impact on the music industry as well.

Merck Mercuriadis—the former manager of Elton John and Beyonce—predicts that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will play a big role in the music industry in the coming years. He thinks that NFTs can bring a new level of transparency to music royalties.

In his own words: “Someone like Nile Rodgers, whose songs have done incredibly well for 40 years…every six months, (he’ll) get a statement from Sony that’s 10,000-pages long and has billions of microtransactions on it… In the future, with NFT and blockchain, those billions of transactions will be able to come back to you in real-time.”

NFTs can also play a role in collectibles. For example, people can buy digital music or videos for the same price as traditional tour books that are sold in concerts.

Source: Reuters

8. The music industry executives are mostly male and white.

An LA Times report notes that the top executives in the music industry are predominantly male and white. This is somewhat surprising given that according to the leading airplay and streaming charts, the most popular artists are Black and female artists.

The top executives at the top 70 music companies are 86% men and 86% white. And in those 70 companies, only 3 are Black executives. There are only 2 women of color.

Blacks are also underrepresented at live music and promotion companies. Only 12.5% are executives of color and had no Black executives. These companies, however, have a good representation of women in leadership roles at 40.6%.

It’s sad to think that the music industry is still underrepresented at this time. Concrete steps would have to be made to equalize the music scene, especially on the executive level.

Source: LA Times  

Live music and Covid-19 statistics and facts

We all know that Covid-19 severely affected the live music industry. It’s one of the reasons why artists along with event organizers and venue operators had trouble generating income at the height of the pandemic.

But Covid-19 gave rise to new platforms for artists to perform. For instance, performers were able to reach their audience through online games. Artists who performed on games like Fortnite and Roblox garnered millions of views.

Here are a few statistics on live music during the Covid-19 pandemic.

9. The live music industry lost a lot during the pandemic.

The damage that the pandemic caused the live music industry cannot be understated. However, livestreams and virtual concerts did help musicians keep in touch with their fans. 

For instance, Travis Scott performed on the video game Fortnite. The virtual concert attracted 12.3 million fans and boosted streaming numbers by 136%.

Source: BBC

10. The concert business was estimated to lose billions because of Covid-19.

At the start of the pandemic, experts were quick to point out the possible losses that the music industry will incur because of Covid-19 restrictions. It was estimated that the industry will lose billions.

Multiple events were moved to different dates including big ones like Coachella. Everyone was shuffling plans and thinking about how to cope with all the last-minute changes the pandemic forced them to make.

Source: Rolling Stone

11. Live music moved to online games.

With the successes that artists like Travis Scott and Lil Nas X had after performing on games like Fortnite and Roblox, we’ve seen more integrations between music and gaming. This is helping drive the consumption of music catalogs in the United States.

There’s been a weekly lift in on-demand audio streams (up by 4.5 million) during the week of May 27 after Swedish pop singer Zara Larsson held a virtual concert on Roblox. The event was launched to promote the singer’s album Poster Girl.

The same lift in streams also happened in Fortnite during the week ending on April 1 after Kaskade premiered his virtual concert within the game.

Ariana Grande also had a concert on Fortnite. This caused the weekly on-demand streams to lift (52.6 million).

This goes to show that there are still ways to promote and consume music live without resorting to live events. This kind of ingenuity helped artists connect with fans even during the height of the pandemic.

Source: MRC Year-End Report US 2021

Digital/streaming music sales revenue statistics and facts

Music streaming is where the industry is headed. This much is clear after looking at all the data in the last couple of years. It’s responsible for most of the music industry’s revenue. And music streaming apps are getting bigger every year.

These are some of the most interesting statistics and facts about digital music sales.

12. Britain is examining if streaming platforms give fair deals to consumers.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is checking if streaming platforms like Spotify only favor big labels and superstar acts. The CMA’s goal is to keep the music industry competitive and continue thriving for music lovers.

With 80% of UK-based users relying on streaming platforms to listen to music, there’s a chance that the streaming sector isn’t as competitive as those in the industry would like. The study will show if changes need to be made to keep a level playing field.

Source: The Guardian

13. Streaming makes up 80% of the music industry’s revenue.

A 2019 report by The Verge mentions that 80% of the music industry’s revenue comes from streaming. People are now streaming music through platforms like Apple Music and Spotify. 

The revenue made from streaming services in the US is so strong, it grew by 26% within the first half of 2019. That made the revenue jump to $4.3 billion. Paid subscriptions also grew by 31%.

Apple Music alone has 56 million paid subscribers. 

Source: The Verge

14. Spotify is the biggest music streaming app.

Spotify is the biggest music streaming app

According to Business of Apps, Spotify is the biggest music streaming app with over 350 million users and 150 million subscribers. Just behind it is the former leader, Apple Music.

Other platforms in the list of top music streaming apps are Amazon Music, YouTube, Pandora, SoundCloud, Tidal, Tencent Music, and Gaana Music.

The global music streaming revenue as of 2020 is $18.9 billion. For reference, the global music streaming revenue in 2012 is $1 billion. So music streaming revenues have come a long way.

Source: Business of Apps

Physical media music sales statistics and facts

While digital music is where most of the industry’s income is coming from, there is still room for physical media. Vinyl and CDs are making a comeback. And physical media sales are still growing despite the presence of music streaming services.

So while physical media is losing the fight against streaming, there is still reason to believe that the former is still profitable.

Here are some physical media statistics and facts for 2022. 

15. The total revenue of the recorded music industry is $23.1 billion.

The total revenue of the recorded music industry is $23.1 billion

As of 2020, the total revenue of the recorded music industry is $23.1 billion. However, 56% of the figure is made up of streaming sales. The remainder is what physical copies sold for during that period.

The good news is that the industry has seen an upward trend year-over-year since 2014 when global sales were at $14.2 billion.

Source: Statista

16. Physical media sales jumped in 2019.

Physical media sales increase in 2019 according to The Verge’s research. The sales of vinyl and CDs grew by 5% and 13% respectively. These CD sales are responsible for $485 million of the industry’s revenue for the first half of 2019.

Vinyl sales brought in about $224 million.

The top-performing artists on streaming platforms include Taylor Swift, Drake, and Ariana Grande.

Source: The Verge

17. Physical music is losing to streaming.

Physical music is losing to streaming

Since 2011, physical copies of music have slowly lost their market share to streaming services. 

An IFPI (via BBC) report states that 443 million people are now paying for a music streaming subscription. However, revenues from streaming only grew by 19.5% because some markets like Russia and India have lower pricing.

Source: BBC

Music consumption statistics and facts

People have consumed a lot of music during the pandemic. Research shows that music helps people have a positive attitude. And not only that, there’s even data that shows how music can help students get better scores in exams.

Here are a couple of interesting facts and statistics on music consumption.

18. High school students do better in exams if they take music courses.

Science Daily published a story that tells how students who take music courses do better in math, science, and English exams compared to students that don’t.

However, school administrators who need to trim their budgets will often cut funding for their music classes. One of the reasons for that is the belief that students who focus on music will underperform in math, science, and English.

Students who learned to play an instrument in elementary and continued to play in high school did not only score higher, but they were also one academic year ahead of other students who do not play music regardless of their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, and gender.

Source: Science Daily

19. YouTube leads music platforms in terms of usage.

YouTube leads music platforms in terms of usage

While other platforms have more music streaming subscribers, YouTube is still far ahead of its competitors as far as usage is concerned. 

There are 2 billion YouTube users who actively listen to music on the platform. Tencent comes second having over 800 million users in China across its various music platforms. Spotify is in third place having a combined total of 381 million paid and free users.

Source: Business of Apps

20. 23% of music engagement comes from subscription audio streaming.

23% of music engagement comes from subscription audio streaming

The 2021 IFPI Engaging With Music Report gives us a clearer picture of how people engage with music. According to the report, 23% of engagement comes from subscription audio streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

22% of engagement is from video streaming platforms like YouTube and DailyMotion. 16% still get their music from the radio. 11% come via short-form video apps including TikTok. People also engage in music through TV, live events, physical media (CDs, vinyl), social media, and ad-supported audio streaming services.

IFPI also pointed out that in 2020, the average person would listen to 18.4 hours of music per week. This is up from 18 hours in 2019. 

Source: 2021 IFPI Engaging With Music Report

21. 87% of people used music to remain positive during the pandemic.

87% of people used music to remain positive during the pandemic

People have used music to get themselves through the pandemic. 87% said that music gave them the enjoyment and happiness they were looking for when Covid-19 hit. Of those, 80% reported that music helped with their emotional well-being during that time.

75% said that music gave them a sense of normality during the outbreak. 73% added that despite the change in routine that the pandemic caused, people were still able to listen to music when needed.

63% of people spent their time exploring new music during the pandemic. 68% of 16 to 19 year-olds said that new releases from their favorite artists helped them during this troubling time.

Source: 2021 IFPI Engaging With Music Report

Music piracy statistics and facts

It’s surprising to learn that despite all the ways we can consume music for free these days, music piracy is still a thing. People will go out of their way to rip music off of music platforms just so they can listen to them offline.

Check out these music piracy statistics and facts for 2022.

22. Music piracy is still prevalent in the United States.

Music piracy is still prevalent in the United States

According to a 2018 MUSO report, music piracy is still a threat to the industry even when there are a lot of options now for streaming music legally. That year, there were 190 billion visits to piracy sites recorded.

The United States had the most visits at 17.380 billion followed by Russia which clocked 14.468 billion visits in the same year. India, France, Turkey, Ukraine, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and Germany also made the list.

Source: MUSO via Dataprot

23. There were 17 million stream-rippers in the US in 2017.

Remember the days when people would download their music illegally? You’d think that the problem would no longer exist since there are plenty of music streaming platforms that offer ways to legally enjoy music. But that’s certainly not the case since people are now stream-ripping songs.

Stream-ripping is stealing music straight from streaming platforms like YouTube by converting uploaded files into downloadable media.

According to the market research firm MusicWatch, there were 17 million stream-rippers in the United States in 2017. While music from streaming platforms can be listened to for free, 46% of stream-rippers download the files so that they can listen to them offline.

37% said that they do it because they want to own songs that they cannot afford.

Source: Forbes

Final thoughts

The pandemic seems to have been a good thing for music streaming but it’s been devastating for the industry at large. Not just for artists that perform live, but also for the road crews that make live shows possible.

While it’s seeming harder than ever to make money from the music business, some musicians are thriving thanks to their focus on building an audience on social media.

These musicians in particular are doing things differently. There’s a lot we can learn from them.

Innovation in the music business is more important than ever.

Want to learn more? Have a read of our guide to selling music online, or check out these stats roundups: