Who saved the music industry? As the business returns solidly to growth – with the Q2 figures showing UK Album Equivalent Sales up a useful 7.8% – record labels are getting used to the idea that the good times are back for good.
But who’s responsible for that growth? Well, Entertainment Retailers Association CEO Kim Bayley has set out the case for her members – which range from tiny independent stores to giant streaming services such as Spotify – getting a big slice of the credit.
Speaking in the new issue of Music Week, Bayley said: “The one thing that’s changed in the music industry is that retailers have changed the way the product gets to the customer. The music itself hasn’t changed that much. Without the digital services, we wouldn’t be seeing the growth that we’ve seen recently. Or without independent retailers backing vinyl and Record Store Day either, it’s not just about digital services, retail as a whole has given a boost to the market.”
Whoever’s ultimately responsible, record companies have certainly enjoyed a boost in profits over the three years of consumption growth.
At the moment it’s good if you’re a £9.99 [per month] consumer, but there’s a ton of people who might just have bought one CD a year before and we need a digital model that works for them as well
But, in a hard-hitting cover story interview that also saw her weigh in on the Copyright Directive, direct licensing and the new National Album Day initiative, Bayley said that labels needed to allow retailers to experiment with different offerings so that they too can reap the benefits. After all, Spotify has yet to turn a profit, despite its $25 billion-plus IPO.
“There are still things that have to change in the industry to help us reach more profit at retail level, but they will,” she said. “Nobody thought Amazon would make a profit years ago and it has.
"But we do need more music models out there," she added. "We need the industry as a whole to encourage a variety of licensing models that would allow us to reach a wider number of consumers. At the moment it’s good if you’re a £9.99 [per month] consumer, but there’s a ton of people who might just have bought one CD a year before and we need a digital model that works for them as well.”
PHOTO: Louise Haywood-Schiefer