Christian Bertrand /

Midia Research has done it again: put its estimates for global recorded music revenues out ahead of the official stats from the IFPI. It’s now an annual tradition, and one that has caused a certain amount of tension in past years when the two sets of figures have diverged. The IFPI’s Global Music Report comes out next week (23 March), so we won’t have to wait long to see if that’s the case this year.

In the meantime, here are Midia’s estimates: growth of 7% for trade recorded music revenues to $23.1bn in 2020, down from the 11% rise that the company estimated for the previous year. Deceleration (or a “dampening effect” in the report’s words) rather than decline, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. “Global revenue was down 3% in Q2 2020 compared to one year earlier, but up to 15% growth in Q4 2020, suggesting a strong 2021 may lie ahead if that momentum continues,” suggested Midia boss Mark Mulligan.

The breakdown sees an estimate of 19.6% growth in streaming revenues to $14.2bn, accounting for 61% of the total. Here’s one potential argument sparker: “2020 was another year of accelerating streaming growth and, given that Spotify’s revenue growth increased by less in 2020 than 2019, this indicates that it is for the first time meaningfully under-performing in the market, due to the rise of local players in emerging markets and strong growth for YouTube.”

Midia Research has been flying the flag for publishing data from the ‘artists direct’ sector for some time, and its report this year continues that. “In 2019, artists direct were the stand-out success story, massively outperforming the market. History repeated itself in 2020 with artists direct growing by a staggering 34.1% to break the billion-dollar market for the first time, ending the year on $1.2 billion and in the process increasing market share by more than a whole point, up to 5.1% in 2020,” it claimed.

(Some of those past tensions with the IFPI concerned the methodology of counting revenues for artists who were not signed to a label, so we’ll be interested to see if the global body breaks out these figures next week.)

When the totals for independent labels and artists direct are added together, Midia estimated that they accounted for $8bn of overall revenue in 2020, while taking a 31.5% share of the streaming market.

“Independent labels as a whole grew by 6.7% (i.e. slightly below the market), but within the sector there was a massive diversity of growth rates, with smaller, newer indies tending to grow faster than the market (some dramatically so) and larger, more established indies growing below the market rate,” claimed the report. “There were also many independents (of all sizes) that saw revenues fall in 2020.”

Image by Christian Bertrand /

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