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Music software, sounds and services made $884m in 2019


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‘Technology’ for making music is nearly as old as music-making itself – construct own ‘banging rocks round a campfire in the stone age was the GarageBand of its day’ Ted Talk here – but in 2020 there’s a growing awareness of the value in the digital market for music creation. From online studios to sample libraries and beyond.

Midia Research has tried to quantify that market in its latest report, starting with an estimate of 14.6 million ‘music creators’ globally, of which 4.7 million are actually (self) releasing their music. And so: “Music software, sounds and services generated $884m in 2019,” claimed the report.

It broke that down into $336m spent on digital audio workstations (DAWs); $379m on plugins and VSTs (virtual instruments); and $157m on sounds. By 2027, Midia expects the combined value to be $1.86bn, including a “shift towards subscriptions and affordable tools and away from expensive one-time- purchase software sales”.

The most disruptive company in this space might turn out to be a familiar name from the commercial music industry: Spotify. Its Soundtrap online studio may still be underestimated by the wider industry. “The record labels were relieved that they had prevented Spotify from disintermediating them when it backed away from its direct artists initiative,” is how Midia’s report sees it.

“While that is likely a case of pressing pause rather than hitting the stop button, Spotify can achieve its longer-term creator- focused aims without that step, leapfrogging to the top of the funnel. The labels stopped Spotify competing with their business of today without realising that they had given it a free hand to compete for their business of tomorrow.”

That said, the continued rising tide of streaming revenues and a growing enthusiasm for music/tech startup investment may see the major labels putting even more resources into this music creation space too. Startups from Roli to Artiphon have taken investment from majors in the past, but perhaps there is scope for even bigger, bolder bets from music companies in creation tools ahead…


Written by: Stuart Dredge