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Digital saves the radio star

Has the music industry turned a corner in its fight for survival?

Adele had the biggest-selling album in 2011

While music makes compelling content in its own right, the global decline in music sales has caused much angst for those who make and market it. But maybe, just maybe, the worst is over, with the newly released sales figures around the world for 2011 showing that the long-term decline is ‘significantly slowing’.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), sales fell by three per cent to US$16.3 billion last year. However, that is still a marked improvement on 2010 when sales dropped by 8.9 per cent.

Last year’s (relative) success was entirely due to digital sales, which rose by eight per cent to US$5.2 billion, while physical sales fell by 8.7 per cent to US$10.2 billion.

Overall, digital sales now account for 31 per cent of all music sold and in the US, the world’s largest music market, last year was the first time digital sales outstripped physical (51 to 49 per cent).

A ‘bright outlook’

In the IFPI Recording Industry in Numbers report, Edgar Berger of Sony Music Entertainment said, ‘2011 was a significant year in the evolution of the digital music business. The rollout of legal services to new markets, the continued expansion of subscription services and the revolution in portability have all contributed to the accelerated growth of the digital music market. The outlook is bright.’

The report also showed that Adele’s 21 was the best-selling album of the year (18.1 million copies), followed by Michael Buble’s Christmas and the ubiquitous Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. Bruno Mars, meanwhile, was top of the digital pops, with Just the Way You Are and Grenade selling 12.5 million and 10.2 million copies respectively. LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem was the third most popular global digital song, selling 9.7 million copies.


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