As the digital music landscape continues to grow and change, streaming and downloads are duking it out for a majority stake. Of course, we hope they’ll find a way to live happily side-by-side — like cats and dogs perhaps? — but right now, they’re still feeling each other out.
Watching the arena closely are Strategy Analytics. According to their Global Recorded Music Forecast, global revenues from streaming will skyrocket in 2012 to increase by 40% to $1.1 billion. Now that’s a growth spurt!
Let’s not mourn downloads just yet however. In the report, the U.S. researcher predicts an increase in global digital revenues of 8.5%, grossing a total of $8.6 billion. And according to them, the main income will still come from downloads which will total $3.9 billion.
On the flip side, and as expected, it’s not all sunny skies for physical sales. Strategy Analytics predict a decrease of 12.1%, with 61% of physical sales still taking up the bulk of 2012 global sales of recorded music. That should remain steady until 2015, when the researcher expects that worldwide digital sales will surpass physical.
Another conclusion the study makes is that streaming is better established in Europe than in the U.S. (see chart). What is striking in the statistics is the development between the U.S. market and Europe. In the U.K., researchers expect streaming income to rise to 42%, and even more so in the rest of Europe, to 48%. The predicted increase for the U.S. is only 28%.
While downloads still constitute 80% of digital music revenue, Ed Barton, Director of Digital Media at Strategy Analytics, says it’s saturated. Gazes are turned to streaming services like Pandora or Deezer, who are expected to be the main growth driver in the next 5 years.
The argument remains: access is what it’s all about these days, rather than ownership.