BRISBANE, Australia — Though slowed by the some of the tightest, longest lockdowns anywhere, Australia’s recorded music market expanded by 4.4% to A$565.8 million ($421 million) in 2021, for the third successive year of growth.
The hero in the picture was, once again, streaming platforms. Specifically, subscription services, which contributed $377 million ($281 million), up 4.1% from A$317 million ($236 million) in 2020, while the total digital pie grew to A$509.7 million ($379 million) last year, a category that includes video streaming (up 26.5% to A$55 million or $41 million), ad-supported models (up 31% to A$52.6 million or $39 million), and downloads.
The headline figure, notes ARIA, is a 15-year high.
During a year when more than half the national population experienced lockdowns, Australians embraced digitally-distributed music, as subscription brands generated two-thirds of total industry wholesale revenue.
“It is fantastic to see continued growth in the Australian recording industry, which remains a top 10 market globally,” notes ARIA CEO Annabelle Herd in a statement. “This speaks to the growing value of the sector as a serious economic contributor, but also underscores the fact that music continues to be part of the fabric of Australian lives.”
The Australian recorded music industry hit a 15-year high in calendar 2021, with wholesale sales posting a third consecutive year of growth and reaching their highest level since 2006. https://t.co/LQ93U1trmq
— ARIA (@ARIA_Official) March 22, 2022
At the same time, Aussies have fallen out with CDs. Revenue from all digital channels accounts for 90% of the total recorded music market, while CD albums, until relatively recently the industry’s biggest income stream, is now worth less (US$24 million or $17 million in 2021) than the vinyl market (A$30 million or $22 million).
“Continued, solid growth in digital figures year on year is exciting,” explains Herd, “even as Australians turned to digital music much earlier than many of our global counterparts. I hope this news spurs on our brilliant home-grown artists as they move toward a more regular year of touring and reconnecting with fans across the country.”
Vinyl, Herd notes, is “an increasingly important player” in the Australia music market. Though getting access to wax during the pandemic, a moment in time rife with supply chain disruption, is easier said than done.
Within the global context, Australia’s growth was rank last.
The strict lockdowns in Australia — Melbourne’s 5 million residents endured the world’s longest lockdown in 2021 — appear to have had an impact on physical revenues, industry professionals say.
Where strong vinyl gains were reported in the U.S. (58.6%) and U.K. (34%), Australia recorded modest growth of 1.2%.
“The fact there was so much lockdown, it really did have an impact,” Simon Robson, President, International, Recorded Music, Warner Music Group, said Tuesday (March 22) during the presentation of IFPI’s Global Music Report. “Obviously,” he continued, “that made it harder for people to buy vinyl. We need to look at Australia in two years, because of the situation that happened with COVID. The fact that it still grew,” he added, “is still encouraging.”
Robson’s comments were echoed by IFPI CEO Frances Moore, who noted every market was in growth, with Australia’s rate outpaced by all others. “Some of it has to do with the total lockdown we saw,” she explained, “and then it took longer for Australia to come out of the lockdowns.”
On a global basis, the recorded music market ballooned by 18.5% to $25.9 billion in 2021, driven by growth in paid subscription streaming.