Germany, like Japan, has retained its position as one of the world’s top recorded-music markets more because of robust physical music sales than because of any digital revolution, although that also arguably held industries in both countries back from throwing their weight behind streaming – because they saw themselves as having more to lose from too-fast cannibalisation of CD sales. That risked losing out on the streaming-fuelled rebound to growth in other countries, although our suspicion has always been that this rebound was merely delayed in Germany and Japan, rather than missed altogether.
The latest figures from the German industry body BVMI seem to support that. In the first half of this year, recorded-music revenues in Germany were €783.2m (around $882.4m), up 7.9% year-on-year, and the highest growth rate since 1993 according to BVMI. Within that, audio-streaming revenues grew by 27.7% and now account for 56.4% of recorded-music revenue in Germany. Add in downloads and income from video streams, and Germany is now a 66% digital market.
Compare all this positivity to the first-half figures for 2018, when BVMI revealed a 2% year-on-year decline in recorded-music revenues, at a time when many other countries were trumpeting their return to growth. The turnaround now isn’t just about audio-streaming, though. In fact, BVMI called out the fact that CD sales “stabilised slightly” in the first half of 2019, falling by just 11.7% compared to the 24.5% decline reported at this stage a year ago. And yes, BVMI continues to criticise YouTube for the level of its payouts, noting that ‘other digital’ platforms (mainly video streaming) only generated 3% of overall revenues in the first half of 2019.