Superfans drive a buoyant global year for music

Live music drives global boom - Newsreel
A resurgence in big music tours helped drive an unexpected bumper year for global music. | Photo: iStock

The global music industry had an unexpected bumper year in 2023 as “superfans” drove sales and emerging markets took off.

The Goldman Sachs 2023 Music in the Air report said the international music market (recorded, publishing and live) grew 15 percent year on year.

This was due to a resurgence in live music tours, “superfans” driving increases in vinyl and CD sales and strong growth in new markets.

Goldman Sachs said all music segments were ahead of expectations except streaming and sync.

“Physical sales grew 13 percent year on year, helped by strong growth in vinyl and CD sales (up 15 percent and 14 percent respectively), which has largely been driven by serving superfans,” the report said. (Superfans are well-above-average consumers of music).

“The live music industry continued its strong rebound in 2023, with estimated revenues of $33.1bn in 2023 (verses $26.5bn in 2022).

“This is driven in our view by a strong schedule that featured many artists who had not toured since pre-Covid, in particular Taylor Swift and Beyonce, driving both attendance (owing to larger venues) and pricing power (due to perceived scarcity of these artists in the short term).”

The report said consumers continued to spend money on concerts despite high inflation, reflecting the “growing structural demand” for experiences, particularly amongst Gen Z and Millennials

“2023 was a turning point for the music industry in many respects, marked by the first ever major price increase by global streaming platforms, the modernisation of outdated royalty payment structures and the deployment of Generative AI,” the report said.

“We believe that the past 12 months have largely allayed initial fears around the impact of Generative AI for music labels. We have seen broad alignment across the major industry participants in limiting AI deepfakes and ensuring a controlled deployment of the new technology.”

The report said, while the flood of new AI generated content onto streaming services has not yet materialised, the industry was still in an experimental phase and copyright protection remained an issue.

The volume of new tracks uploaded onto streaming services grew 11 percent in 2023 and emerging music markets began to surge.

Goldman Sachs estimated that emerging markets contributed 60 percent of net subscriber additions in 2023 and this would rise to 70 percent by 2030.

This had significant implications for major music companies due to increased non-English local acts and the need for agreements with local labels and acts.

The full report is on the Goldman Sachs website.