How Big Is the Music Industry? — An Overview

The music industry has been around for decades, helping artists grow and find the audience that would appreciate their work through promotion and, often, other resources too. In other words, it’s where music meets business.

How Big Is the Music Industry?

Short answer — it’s enormous. The global value of the music industry is estimated to be over US$50 billion (about $63 billion), making it one of the world’s most impactful industries. It isn’t easy to measure it precisely, but we can look into the available stats and draw conclusions.

An Insight Into the Music Business Worldwide

Just like with every other business-driven concept, we can also describe the music industry using the language of statistics.

Let’s dive into it!

1. Three record labels dominate the music industry, holding the majority of the total market share.

(Toptal)

The three most prominent record labels, Universal Music Group (32%), Sony Music Entertainment (20%) and Warner Music Group (16%), hold a staggering 68% of the music recording market.

Similarly, these three business entities hold 58% of the music publishing market.

2. The global music industry’s revenue hit US$53.77 billion ($68.39 billion) in 2018.

(Statista) (MIDiA Research)

This is over US$2 billion ($2.5 billion) more in comparison to 2017 — just a year prior. More recent data shows that the total recorded music revenue experienced a 7% growth in 2020 compared to 2019, equivalent to around US$23.1 billion ($29.4 billion).

3. There are over 5 million musicians in the world.

(Apple)

Some would argue that the music industry size equates to the number of artists. While it’s impossible to know the exact number of musicians in the world, we can calculate the approximate number using specific data.

For example, we can see that Apple has paid royalties to over 5 million artists globally and can assume there are at least that many artists based on this valid indicator.

4. The Beatles hold first place in terms of the number of records sold.

(ChartMasters)

Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley are closely behind, taking second and third place. Taylor Swift is one of the newer successful artists on the list, usually selling over a million album copies within the first week after release, which inducts her among the big names.

5. Physical music sales were estimated to be US$4.2 billion ($5.3 billion) in 2020.

(Statista)

On the other hand, digital music sales generated about US$1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) worldwide. Digital sales refer to pure single sales and are primarily made through iTunes music sales and similar channels.

This data further shows that physical sales still seem to be a preferred way of global music distribution.

6. Universal Music Group is the biggest record label in the world.

(Statista)

Closely following are Sony Music and Warner Music Group. These record labels are considered “the big three” of the music industry, as they make the most significant part of the total market share of the music business worldwide.

Conclusion

And there you go — this concludes our journey of measuring the size of the music’s footprint on the realm of modern business. The music industry is very impactful, and its products are integral to our world and pop culture, and its influence is ever-present today, more than ever before.

Sources:

An eye for aesthetics and a passion for writing and technology are both parts of Dusan’s essence. He is a curious spirit with an appreciation for a well-written story and pop and indie-folk music, undying love for cats and deep knowledge of Taylor Swift’s lyrics. He discovered his passion for writing at a young age. Dusan’s creativity has been unlimited ever since, prompting him to compose various pieces one word at a time.

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