he tale of 2021 for the recorded music industry in a nutshell? Absolute stonks.
According to industry body the IFPI, global recorded music revenues grew by 18.5% to $25.9bn. That’s the headline figure from its annual Global Music Report, which was published this afternoon.
This compares to 7.4% growth in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic made its first (and hardest) impact on these revenues. 2021 was the seventh consecutive year of growth for label revenues, and the highest annual total since the IFPI has been recording this data.
You don’t need us to tell you what continues to drive this growth. Streaming revenues for recorded music grew by 24.3% to $16.9bn in 2021, and thus now account for just under two thirds of total revenues – 65%.
(Remember throughout this story that we’re talking about recorded music alone: the IFPI’s figures do not include music publishing or live revenues.)
According to the IFPI, Sub-Saharan Africa generated $70.1m of revenues from recorded music in 2021 – one of the first times we’ve had an ‘official’ industry figure for the region. That was up by 9.6% year-on-year, but how might it grow in the next few years?
Research firm Dataxis has made some predictions that are worth chewing over. They’re for Africa’s music streaming revenues. Unlike the figure above, these are forecasts for the entire continent of Africa, including markets like Egypt, Morocco and Algeria that the IFPI counts separately in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Anyway, what is Dataxis’s crystal ball telling it? The company predicts that Africa’s annual music streaming revenues will grow from $92.9m in 2021 to $314.6m by 2026, while warning that internet penetration rates will be the main ceiling on this growth. “Streaming cannot go faster than infrastructure,” as the company put it.
Dataxis also noted that the majority of revenues are still coming from a minority of African countries: around 40% from South Africa, and 86% from that country plus Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco and Algeria – the top five markets in the region.
(If you’re wondering, comparisons between Dataxis’s numbers and the IFPI’s official figures are a bit tricksy. The latter’s Global Music Report outlined $49.2m of streaming revenues for Sub-Saharan Africa, and another $89.5m for MENA. Way more than the $92.9m suggested by Dataxis’s estimates – but our sense is that the latter do not include the ‘Middle East’ part of MENA.)
Anyway, the $314.6m figure will be seized upon by companies and bodies keen to get more investment into Africa’s music economies and infrastructure, as sign of the potential growth and rewards.
For more on what’s happening in the region, listen to our recent podcast episode with Godwin Tom and Elizabeth Sobowale from the Music Business Academy (MBA) for Africa, in which they talked about trends and changes in Africa’s music industries.