There are now three certainties in life: death, taxes and that the IFPI will use the annual publication of its global music report to bang on about the so-called ‘value gap’.
But, in fact, the global trade body’s fixation with calling out YouTube for its poor payments per-user was one of the less interesting things to come out of its annual look at the state of the industry.
Perhaps the most significant stat was the number of people now subscribing to a streaming service: 112 million. That’s the equivalent of the combined population of the UK and Spain.
Once upon a time, such a figure would have been regarded as the stuff of a madman’s dreams. Even a couple of years ago, it would have been considered to be the absolute end game.
Now, it’s just the start. And, with streaming opening up markets that never previously contributed much to the industry coffers, who knows what the final figure could be?
But, whether it’s 200m, 500m or somewhere in the billions, it’s clear the fight for ownership of the streaming market is far from over.
Spotify might be ahead now, but it’s not even present in some developing markets.
Some of its competitors (Apple, Amazon) have very deep pockets. Others (such as China’s Tencent) have local advantage. So the biz should be wary of putting all its eggs in one or two baskets just yet.
Maybe even YouTube – or, at least its owners Google – might have a big role to play. For now, there may be a gap in the value. But it’ll take a few years before we find out if there’s value in the gap.
Mark Sutherland, Editor