According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the downtrend in global music industry sales that has lasted over a decade is now on the up. The increase in music sales has been marked at 0.3% (a very low number really, but considering a decade-long drought makes it count for a lot). A welcome break from the disheartening decrease in music sales, last year’s increase marks the first one since 1999.
The IFPI has taken this increase in sales as a sign that the music industry will once again see the success of its pre-digital downloads days. Sales figures from 2011, taking into account every music format, were recorded at $16.4 billion. For 2012, it was $16.5 billion. But, the heydays of the industry are back again all because digital download sales are increasing? Sounds a little contradictory, but IFPI goes on to clarify things for us.
In the opinion of the federation, the consistent decrease of sales prior to 2012 was caused by the fact that the music industry was slow to adapt to the proper measures of dealing with digital downloading. On the side of the record companies and a few major artists, the first instinct was to conduct smear tactics against digital downloading and generalize users who participated in it (even though they may have gotten the content through perfectly legal means) as pirates who infringe on licensing rights. Lawsuits were filed; digital content was confiscated; and people were scared into thinking twice about downloading content without paying. It created an odd situation for the music industry that hinted at its growing irrelevance. It was becoming obvious that the way people consume their music was radically changing (moving away from the physical means of cassettes, vinyl, and manufactured CDs and towards the digital) and that the industry was unwilling to adapt.
We all know the result: continued decrease in sales with each passing year. It’s important to note, though, that the music industry is finally responding to digital downloading in a more positive manner. The rise of iTunes and other digital content services are proving that. Now that the music industry has experienced its first uptrend since the onset of digital downloading, there’s hope that it might get back up on its feet.