Recorded Music Industry’s Revenue Surpasses $21 Billion For The First Time Since 2002

The recorded music industry made $ 21.6bn (£ 15.7bn) last year, the highest figure since 2002.

Revenue grew by 7.4%, driven by the success of artists such as Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Drake on the charts.

Best Selling Album

BTS had the best-selling album, Map of the Soul: 7; while The Weeknd’s retro-pop anthem Blinding Lights was the biggest one in singles, converting 2.7bn copies.

Broadcast sites such as Spotify and Apple Music account for 62.1% of total revenue, reaching $ 13.4bn (£ 9.7bn).

More than 443 million people now pay for music subscriptions, says IFPI, which represents the music industry worldwide.

Growing Demand

That means 102 million people signed up for a new account last year, compared to 85 million in 2019, and 79 million in 2018.

However, while the number of subscribers increased by 29%, revenue from broadcasting grew by only 19.5% – as pricing systems often fell in new markets such as India and Russia.

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The figures, presented in IFPI’s annual Global Music Report, are a reminder of “the endless musical power of soothing, healing and rejuvenating our spirits,” during the pandemic, chief executive Frances Moore said.

“Some things are timeless, like the power of a great song or the connection between artists and fans. But some things have changed. With so much of the world in lockdown and live music shut down, in nearly every corner of the globe most fans enjoyed music via streaming.”

IFPI Figures

IFPI figures do not include live music revenue, which is the industry most affected by the disease.

However, performance revenues – the royalties earned when music is played on radio, TV or in concert – were counted, and declined by 10.1% to $2.3bn (£1.7bn).

It is hoped that live music will resume this summer, depending on the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine; but the IFPI’s annual report highlighted how livestreams and virtual concerts had helped musicians reach fans over the last 12 months.

US rapper Travis Scott performed a show inside the video game Fortnite during the first lockdown in April, attracting 12.3 million fans, and boosting his streaming numbers by 136%.

British pop music star Dua Lipa also enjoyed the same momentum in her leading Studio 2054 in November, garnering five million views, including more than 1.9 million entries from China.


The BTS has been the biggest act in the world, the first time a South Korean boy band has been on the world chart.

The pop group pushed Taylor Swift, who took the title last year, to second place, while Drake finished third – although he did not release a new album in 2020.

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BTS had two of the top 10 best-selling records of the year, led by Map Of The Soul: 7, which fans bought or downloaded 4.8 million times.

Their fifth album, Be, which was recorded in response to the coronavirus, became the fourth best-selling, with 2.69 million copies; while the Soul Map of the Japanese Language: 7 – The Journey, sold 1.17 million.

The UK has maintained its position as the third largest music market in the world, with a revenue of $ 1.5bn (£ 1.1bn).


Shaheer is passionate about living a life seeking un-ending knowledge, philomath, as you may think of him. He's a student of Finance and a keen observer of Business and Indian-Political scenario who takes pleasure to pen down his views and opinions on the same. As his guiding mantra to life, ‘Come what may , life goes on’ helps.

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