'We've reached the tipping point': BPI's Geoff Taylor talks soaring streaming numbers

'We've reached the tipping point': BPI's Geoff Taylor talks soaring streaming numbers

The music industry has been toasting its success in the past 12 months, following the recent market figures for 2017 published by the BPI and ERA. In the latest issue of Music Week, we dig into the data and look ahead to how the biz can consolidate those streaming results in 2018. Here’s more from Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI and Brit Awards, on his take on the labels’ performance and the third year of growth…

Has streaming officially become the future of the business?

Yes, clearly we’ve reached the tipping point where the majority of music consumption is streaming. But I think what’s most encouraging is that the rate of growth – still growing at more than 50% a year – shows that we’re some way from it having plateaued. I think there are a lot of people who still haven’t experienced music streaming. We take for granted in metropolitan centres like London that everybody knows what Spotify is. Actually there’s still plenty of room for growth and I think more and more older consumers will get involved in streaming – that shows there’s a lot of potential value still to be realised for the industry. At the same time, I think the resilience of physical formats shows a very healthy picture, so we look forward with a lot of optimism.

Are there signs streaming growth has peaked?

It would be ambitious to expect that the rate of growth remained as high, it would be normal for that to gradually reduce. We have every reason to hope that if we continue to release great music, and continue to innovate in the streaming experience, then there’s a lot of potential still to grow.

How important was a strong release schedule last year?

I think what was encouraging in 2017 were the breakthroughs. In particular, Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Rag’N’Bone man, J Hus, these were all proper British breakthroughs and you see some of those artists like Dua Lipa going on to international success as well. So I think the conveyor belt of talent, and the jobs that the labels are doing in identifying and marketing talent, is clearly firing on all cylinders. It needs to be because when you look at the strength of the international competition, there’s some great music coming out of the US.

There are a lot of people who still haven’t experienced music streaming

Geoff Taylor

Is the CD here to stay?

CD has its role, there are lots of consumers for whom it’s still really convenient, that’s the way they access music in their car. We’ll continue to see it drop off but everyone’s been surprised, I think, by how long it’s remained around, it’s a great format, and the increases in vinyl clearly mean physical overall is performing better than most people would have expected.

What about downloads?

It’s understandable that for most people who are going into digital music now, streaming is the more logical way forward than buying downloads. So we can expect that dynamic to continue, but I don’t think Apple are likely to turn off downloads imminently and they still have a role to play in the market. The great news for consumers is that, whichever way you want your music, you can get it.  There’s never been more music available so easily, so it’s a great time to be a music fan. Our job at the labels is just to make sure that there’s fantastic British music out there, and that’s why I’m so encouraged that 2017 has been a good year 

What are the challenges for 2018?

The big issue for this year is integration with voice, so smart speakers – we need to make sure that British artists still get their share in a curated environment. That’s already true on streaming, it will be more true as more people access their music through smart speakers. So we need to make sure that that isn’t a bottleneck that works to the advantage only of the biggest global superstars, but that emerging artists also can feature and people can discover in the same way through voice assistants as they currently can do on screen. That’s one of the challenges for us that everybody is working hard on.

Subscribers can read the full Music Week analysis here. To subscribe and never miss a big industry story click here.

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