It’s probably a first. During the presentation on Tuesday morning of the music market results for the past year, not once was the word piracy spoken! Growing for the fourth consecutive year, the sector which has regained color has visibly moved on to something else. With progression “Sustained” of the recorded music turnover to 5.4% and 772 million of receipts, this long moribund market was again pulled by the streaming (59% of the sales), while the physical supports fall again by 10% . And if the CD remains the second most profitable format after streaming, thanks to a network which still has 4,000 points of sale, vinyl confirms as everywhere its good health. Sales are up 12% and now represent 20% of the physical market, with 42% of buyers under the age of 30.

Another recurring and long controversial subject in the sector, the share of paid subscriptions to Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz, Apple Music and others also continues to grow. For the first time last year, the 10% mark was reached with 9.4 million paying users including family offers. These paid subscriptions increased by 18.5%, generating almost 80% of streaming revenues and almost half (46%) of total sales. “This is a very encouraging result, said Alexandre Lasch, director general of Snep, the main French union of producers, publishers and distributors of recorded music. However, streaming is still far from being a mature market and has immense room for improvement. In 2019, the market has barely caught up to the level of ten years ago and is still only 44% of that of 2002 “, year of the music industry’s peak in France, with 1.4 billion euros in revenue generated.

The French prod at the top of the sales

Another source of satisfaction is that the past year has made a big splash for music of “local” origin (produced in France) and of French-speaking expression. 19 of the 20 best-selling albums are local productions and 80% of the Top 200. Belgian artist Angèle comes out on top and Lady Gaga is the only non-French-speaking artist in the top 20. 46 young talents rank a first album among the 200 best listens and sales, 44% of which relate to urban music. President of Snep and Universal Music France, Olivier Nusse has sought to put into perspective this predominance of urban music concomitant with the rise of streaming, and which makes some teeth cringe in the sector. “Younger people don’t listen to urban music and its repertoires becoming more and more mixed with other genres, more ethnic, electro or pop”, nuance there. The classification in urban music remains very subjective and the boundaries are less defined, he adds. “During the last Grammy Awards, I could see the Aerosmith rockers doing a common scene again with Run-DMC.”

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In terms of uses, music confirms its status as the leading leisure activity in France. It is more and more listened to, at the rate of nine hours per week on average for a paying subscriber to a streaming service, and more than eleven hours among 16-24 year olds. And if physical music benefited from a strong seasonality, with sales mainly concentrated at the end of the year, streaming, often synonymous with shortened songs, longer albums and especially an explosion in the number of singles, can be listened to the weather and all year round. For Alexandre Lasch, who invites to be wary of “Magnifying glass effects” around urban music, “The enlargement of streaming subscribers will gradually correct the phenomenon of overexposure of the rap, hip-hop and rnnb repertoires”. In other words, streaming should end up looking more and more like the reality of music consumption outside of networks. Its primary vehicle for discovery and dissemination remains radio.

Negotiation with YouTube

Among the rare subjects that continue to tickle the sector, Snep has only indicated that it expects a lot from the negotiations that are opening with YouTube, in the framework of the new European copyright directive transposed in the French right. While its parent company, Google, has so far taken refuge behind the hosting status of the platform to impose very low repayments on rights holders, thanks to a power relationship that was very favorable to it (the difference goes from 1 at 18 between YouTube and Spotify), the renegotiation of contracts must succeed “At least a doubling” sums transferred, hopes Snep.

Another good news for the sector: the CNM sea serpent, the national music center, the “common house” of all professionals, as we present it, has finally come into being after years of painful gestation. Launched on 1st January, this new public body supporting musical creation arrives with 7.5 million euros in new grants to distribute, bringing the total to around fifty million per year. That’s to say that it’s welcome while waiting to see how this pretty cake rab is going to be distributed.

Christophe Alix

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