pwc

We covered some elements of PwC’s 2013 Entertainment & Media Outlook report yesterday, but the report’s conclusions on the US music market are worth pulling out separately.

Billboard has done a good job of that, noting that PwC is predicting annual growth of just over 1% for the US recorded and live music business between now and 2017.

In the latter year, it expects concerts to generate $10bn of revenues for the industry, with digital music sales worth $4.6bn, and physical music sales worth $1.4bn.

PwC suggests that there’s a “terminal decline” in CD sales which will never see “any kind of sales increase” again, although as Billboard points out, even at a steady rate of decline, physical could still be generating $500m of annual revenues in the US by 2023: a niche, but not dead.

As with any predictions of this sort, there is plenty of scope for them to be torn up and rewritten in future years. Will Apple’s iRadio open up a new market or simply cannibalise Pandora?

Will the latter’s royalty commitments go up or down the next time rates are set? Will Spotify, Rhapsody, Google Play All Access, Daisy and the rest find a magic formula to grow faster than expected? And will iTunes have spawned a fully on-demand streaming service by 2017?

PwC’s prediction of a 5.1% compound annual growth rate for digital music revenues in the US should be taken as a challenge by the industry to do better than that, rather than a set-in-stone prediction of what’s going to happen.

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