Summary: The music industry was one of the first sectors to be fundamentally disrupted by the Internet. Facing an epic and almost existential battle with piracy, coupled with expectations that music should be free, the record labels have tested many different business and distribution models. With sales of recorded music finally growing again, telcos and their partners can learn a lot from the music industry's hits and misses. (Executive Briefing Service and Dealing with Disruption Stream, September 2017)
Below is a short extract from this 24 page Telco 2.0 Report that can be downloaded in full in PDF format by subscribers to the Executive Briefing Service and Dealing with Disruption Stream here. To find out more about how to join or access this report please see here or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003.
The latest report in STL Partners’ Dealing with Disruption stream, this paper explores what telcos and their partners can learn from the music industry and its response to disruptive forces unleashed by the Internet.
Music was among the first industries to see its core product (compact discs) completely undermined by the Internet’s emergence as the primary distribution mechanism for content and software, throwing the record labels into a long standing struggle to maintain both relevance and revenues. After almost two decades of decline, sales of recorded music are growing again and, in developed markets, at least, the existential threat posed by piracy seems to have abated. Although the music industry still has problems aplenty, the success of streaming services has steadied the ship.
This report outlines how the music industry has regained its mojo, before considering the lessons for telcos and other digital service providers. The first section of the paper considers why music streaming has become so successful and whether the model will be sustainable. The second section of the paper explores the lessons companies from other sectors, notably telecoms, can draw from the ways in which the music industry responded to the Internet’s disruptive forces.
This paper builds on other entertainment-related reports published by STL Partners, including:
Over the past 20 years, the rise of the Internet has shaken the music industry to the core, obsolescing its distribution model, undermining its business model and enabling new forms of piracy. Yet, the major record labels have survived, albeit in a consolidated form, and the sector is now showing some tentative signs of recovery. In 2013, the global music industry began to grow again for the first time since the turn of the Millennium. It continues to recover and will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.5% between now and 2021, according to research by PwC, fuelled by growth in both the recorded music and the live music sectors (see Figure 1).
Source: PWC and Ovum
For most of the past two decades, revenues from recorded music have been shrinking, leaving the industry increasingly reliant on ticket sales for live performances. Widespread piracy, together with the growing obsolesce of CDs, appeared to be turning recorded music into a form of advertising for concerts and tours.
But in 2015, global recorded music revenues began to grow again. In 2016, they rose a relatively healthy 5.9% to US$15.7 billion (about one third of the industry’s total revenue), according to a report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). For music industry executives, that growth marks an important milestone. “We got here through years of hard work,” Michael Nash, executive vice president of digital strategy at Universal records, told the Guardian in April 2017, adding that the music industry was still going through a “historical transformation. The only reason we saw growth in the past two years, after some 15 years of substantial decline, is that music has been one of the fastest adapting sectors in the digital world.”
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Technologies and industry terms referenced include: Disruption, music, business models, streaming, consumers, Spotify, Google, Apple, Amazon, OTT, data, co-opetition, entertainment.