Spain was once an infamous basket-case of the global music industry as far as recorded music went, with piracy laying waste to music sales to a greater extent than other countries in the developed world. Then came streaming, and optimism that even Spain could return to being a positive market for recorded music revenues.
How’s that going? Figures released yesterday by industry body Promusicae revealed that in the first half of 2018, recorded-music revenues in Spain grew by just under 0.4% year-on-year to €107.6m (around $124.1m). Within that, physical sales fell by 12.7% to €28.6m while digital revenues grew by 6% to €79m. And within the latter category, download revenues fell by 23% to €4.1m while streaming grew by 8.3% to €72.8m.
Streaming thus now accounts for 68.2% of the Spanish market. And – this is an interesting point – within *that* there was a 52.9% increase in subscription audio-streaming revenues to €52.9m, and a 61.7% decline in ad-supported audio-streaming revenues to €8.4m. That’s remarkable in one sense: in the early days of the Spanish recovery, ad-supported streaming was seen as the key weapon against piracy. Now, it seems, we can talk about Spain as a market where paid music is once again driving growth.
Let’s not get carried away just yet though. According to the IFPI, for 2017 as a whole, Spain’s recorded-music revenues grew by 6.1%, so the 0.4% growth in the first half of 2018 should be a headache. But last year’s stronger performance was partly due to a highly-unusual factor: in 2017, physical sales actually grew ever-so-slightly (from €52.5m in 2016 to €52.6m in 2017). It’s that sector of the market returning to double-digit decline that’s pulling the overall figures down.
Labels will prefer to focus on the acceleration of the growth in subscription streaming: it was up 24% for 2017 as a whole, and now up 52.9% in the first half of 2018. “One of the priorities of our sector has been to promote the benefits of paid subscriptions in the new music services, and it is comforting to see such positive results,” said Promusicae boss Antonio Guisasola in a statement.
He also, as is now customary for these kinds of industry-figure announcements, took YouTube to task for the ‘value gap’. Ad-supported video-streaming revenues were up 6.9% year-on-year to €11.5m, which means they have overtaken ad-supported audio-streaming revenues in Spain. That’s a big change: in the first half of 2017, free audio streams generated double the revenues of free video streams (€21.8m to €10.8m) in Spain. Now the balance is €8.4m to €11.5m. “We are far from receiving an adequate remuneration,” claimed Guisasola.