UK Music Biz Kept Growing Before The Digital Economy Act; So Why Was It Needed?

from the does-that-make-the-IFPI-sad? dept

Last year, we were one of the only ones to report on Will Page and Chris Carey's analysis of the UK music market, which showed (contrary to all the whining and complaining out there) that the music industry was actually growing, if you stopped focusing in on just recorded music, and looked at the overall industry. This was a point we'd been making for years, and it was great to see some economists -- especially economists who work for the industry make that point. This year, they've updated the report and it's getting a lot more attention, because it continues to show that the music industry (in the UK, at least) continues to rise -- including highlighting that even recorded music sales are doing okay. Note, of course, that this is looking at 2009, so the Digital Economy Act has nothing to do with this.

The report notes that live music continues to grow nicely, suggesting again that for all the doom and gloom of "file sharing" out there, it may have driven more people to live shows. Of course, this year there has been a lot of concern about the live industry, as some of the bigger festivals and arena tours have had some trouble, but a lot of indications are that this may be more of a problem of how some of these big tours were set up and organized. Smaller shows appear to be doing well. Page and Carey also note that they've improved their methodology for measuring live revenue, going beyond just ticket sales, since they point out, quite importantly, that some bands play for a cut of the bar tab or through other forms of revenue. They also note the reports of 2010 decline, but warn not to read too much into it, as there is plenty of innovation happening in the market. They point out that while the "growth" of live may be slower, it's still growing.
That said, it is impossible to ignore the innovation taking place in this space, be it ongoing renovations and improvements in venues, better production facilities and food & beverage offerings, VIP suites and upgrade packages, sophisticated data management, or the close forging of fan relationships, all of which combine to increase the concert going population and hence demand.

In addition, we also need to appreciate the positive impact of services like Songkick which are akin to Facebook for live music fans with the end result being more awareness, more recommendations, and consequently more fans going to more shows. The Songkick business model looks to improve on a very simple observation from Sean Moriarty, former CEO of Ticketmaster, who said: "Nearly 35% of [ticket] inventory goes unsold and if you ask fans why they didn't go to shows, one of the more popular reasons is 'I didn't know about it'."

Hence, a balanced view for the outlook of this sector is to accept that live music revenues may well be moving onto a lower growth trajectory than during the boom years -- but please acknowledge that (i) it's still growth and (ii) that the sector is innovating in ways that are arguably just as impressive as those in the digital music sector.
On top of that, it's nice to see them spend some time specifically discussing the ad and sponsor revenue in the music business. This is a large part of the business that gets widely ignored by many. But it really is yet another case of selling the scarcity -- in this case, attention.

The report does spend some time noting that there are some significant differences in the US and UK markets, so it probably doesn't make sense to directly extrapolate out the results. However, this certainly does call into serious question the reasoning of BPI and others for the Digital Economy Act. What it shows, quite clearly, is that the industry was doing a very good job adapting on its own. It even makes you wonder if the BPI/IFPI/RIAA lobbyists are actually upset about this report, which sort of takes away the entire crux of their "help us politicians, you're our only hope" claim.

One final point on all of this: the last page of the report is given over to (soon to be knighted) Feargal Sharkey who has long led the "something must be done about the pirates!" charge in the UK, and has supported three strikes legislation. I find two things about his input interesting. First, there's no more talk about evil pirates and how something must be done. Now the story has flipped, so that it's "see how great the music business is... if the government helped us even more, we could help lead the UK economy out of its doldrums." It's as if we were always at war with Eurasia. Secondly, Sharkey notes that with the rise in live music, the government can help by "lifting the bureaucratic licensing restrictions that are stifling music performances in smaller venues." Now, I don't disagree. Lifting such licensing restrictions would certainly be a big help... but it's a bit surprising to see this in a PRS report, as it could just as easily be pointed out that "lifting the bureaucratic PRS fees that are stifling music performances in small venues."

Either way, we've already promised another interview with Will Page, author of this report, (you can see our last interview with him here) and we're still planning to do that, where we'll spend some time discussing this report as well. If anyone has specific questions you'd like us to discuss with Will, let me know.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Michael Brent, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    Consider this?

    I think if you dig deep into the numbers and you compare the cost of tickets today vs 10 years ago you'll see why the music biz in the UK has grown. It is quite interesting that file sharing ahem stealing has had more of an impact in the USA than elsewhere. If anyone knows of a report that compares size of market (number of music buyers) it would be interesting to see the percentages.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Aug 4th, 2010 @ 1:47pm

      Re: Consider this?

      "It is quite interesting that file sharing ahem stealing has had more of an impact in the USA than elsewhere. If anyone knows of a report that compares size of market (number of music buyers) it would be interesting to see the percentages."

      Alot of this disparity has to do with the uptake in technology (cellphones, internet, etc) in the US -vs- the rest of the world. It allowed for more resales of albums in the US skewing the results of profits and losses. Its a neat relationship, that is consistant across nations and their technological penetration levels.

       

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    theonlyweeman, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 1:31pm

    Apparentk

     

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    theonlyweeman, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Apparently Ticket Sales Are Increasing

    According to the BBC ticket sales in the UK are going up but nowhere else in the world (Sorry about my last comment I hit the wrong button and now can't delete it)

     

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    darryl, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 1:41pm

    Because now we have a Digital Economy !!! Easy Question ... Next..

    "UK Music Biz Kept Growing Before The Digital Economy Act; So Why Was It Needed?"

    without even reading your aritcle, (and I always do), the answer to that question is obvious.

    Maybe we are getting a digital economy act, because our economy is becoming more and more DITITAL... !!!

    Go Figure !!

    If Something is "doing good" before or after something else happens, why is that a reason (OR NOT) to ignore that, in changing times.

    "Oh, they did good before, so they dont need to more with the times".

    You know what happens to industries that do not move with the times ?

    Purchased a buggy whip recently ?

    Digital age or not, people still want to buy and listen to music and to watch TV and movies.

    In other words they like to watch content, that is now often provided digitally.

    So it would be obvious for there to be evolving rules, and laws to deal with new "things".

    It would make sense to intruduce new laws and rules, and guidelines in say the avaitation industry, in the past 100 years, air planes have gotten much faster, many more of them, and they fly higher, and carry more people.

    So you make new rules for new technologies and advancements.

    You remove old laws that are no longer relevant, and you make new rules to deal with the times we live in.

    We change speed limits on roads to account for modern cars and their safety features, we change laws about fuel consumption, and pollution with the changing times, and the gaining of more knowledge.

    So why would you want to keep an industry in the dark ages, or does that benifit you, so you can apply old outdated laws to you technology,

    Is that how you are finding your own "loopholes" in the system ?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 5:10pm

      Re: Because now we have a Digital Economy !!! Easy Question ... Next..

      Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

      http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php

      Even the cops know when some battles are not worth fighting.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 8:32pm

      Re: Because now we have a Digital Economy !!! Easy Question ... Next..

      "You know what happens to industries that do not move with the times ?"

      The irony here is delicious.

       

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      Richard Corsale, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 9:11pm

      Re: Because now we have a Digital Economy !!! Easy Question ... Next..

      Is this satire? It's funny.. it's like if we get a bill and call it the Safe Children act. It's more about oppressing parents than keeping children safe and you popup saying "IT'S CALLED the SAFE Children act.. what, you dont want to keep children safe!?!"

      That's Monty python funny :)

       

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      Niall (profile), Aug 7th, 2010 @ 3:48am

      Re: Because now we have a Digital Economy !!! Easy Question ... Next..

      Oh look, more darryl-related "witter-on-without-thinking" claptrap!

      Speed limits (at least in the UK) haven't changed in 40 years at least. By your argument, local councils would look at cars and say "they all have better brakes and safety features so let's increase the speed limit". Um, no! Quite the opposite, you often see speed limits going down, because it's at least as much about the safety of pedestrians, not of Volvo drivers...

      Sure we change laws /where necessary/. The UK DEA is NOT necessary - unless you an old 'gatekeeper' crying into your golden cornflakes bowl that you don't have enough money for a new helicopter AND your cocaine this month, and that people are doing better than you in the marketplace. That more money is going straight to those pesky musicians from touring and other CwF offerings instead of into your bank account.

      The DEA is simply a non-democratically instigated attempt to preempt ACTA's nonsense and break due process and what have already been established as 'human rights' in the EU.

       

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    darryl, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    Mike, I thought you said, music industry is on brink of collapse ?

    Or does that support a different argument ?

    Im sure ive seen you state that claim several times.

    And if banks can still grow and make a profit with credit card theft, should be not create laws against credit card theft ?

    What is your point, because an industry is doing well, even though people are not doing the right thing, then we should ignore all the wrong things and just let them do it ?

    Just because a system has problems but can still perform with those proplems, that is not an excuse to ignore those problems, and write them off as a loss.

    So supermarkets make profit, even though people shoplift and steal things, even though criminals sometimes rob the til.

    Banks have credit card fraud, they have bank robbers, they have armed robbers, they have crooked tellers and managers.

    And so on, no industry is perfect, but does does not mean you cannot work to improve that industries efficiency, and why help one industry (by making laws against bank robbery) and not another industry (music), because of some idea that that industry is doing 'allright'.

    what kind of screwed up logic is that?, you can ask your friend for me please...

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 4th, 2010 @ 2:29pm

      Re: Mike, I thought you said, music industry is on brink of collapse ?

      Mike, I thought you said, music industry is on brink of collapse ?

      Never said that. Never come close. I've always said that the music industry was thriving like no time in history.

      Im sure ive seen you state that claim several times.


      You're wrong. I've never said that. You do this a lot. You pretend I've said something I have not. Why do you do that?

      What is your point, because an industry is doing well, even though people are not doing the right thing, then we should ignore all the wrong things and just let them do it ?

      No, I'm just pointing out that the industry constantly relies on the false claim that it's dying to pass legislation in its favor. Isn't it worth pointing out that their claims are false?

      Just because a system has problems but can still perform with those proplems, that is not an excuse to ignore those problems, and write them off as a loss.

      But if the industry claims that those "problems" are the source of all its woes, and the *actual evidence* shows that the "problems" actually have HELPED the industry thrive, isn't that worth noting?

      what kind of screwed up logic is that?, you can ask your friend for me please...


      It's only screwed up logic in your head Darryl. Oddly, I've explained this to you before, so I'm at a bit of a loss as to why you would repeat such false allegations.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 5:05pm

      Re: Mike, I thought you said, music industry is on brink of collapse ?

      I'm stealing your music can you see it?

      What you call it "wrong" others call it "fair use".

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 5:16pm

      Re: Mike, I thought you said, music industry is on brink of collapse ?

      Can you enforce those rules upon a hostile population?

      I would love to see you try.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 5:23pm

      Re: Mike, I thought you said, music industry is on brink of collapse ?

      I like to see how, imaginary property would be enforced.

      Psychic police in the streets to read the minds of offenders?
      Build a huge network, that contains every instance of music and video of the entire human race so law enforcement can check on the spot if something is copyrighted, or maybe put in police in the streets just to search children and women for illegal music in their backpacks and purses, that would be great.

      How about killing every radioshack in the country for selling equipment capable or circumventing DRM.

      Will the government install microphones in the house of people to monitor the usage of music, but I still don't see how they will differentiate legal from illegal usage, should people register and contact some authoraty everytime they need to play a video or music to get a permit for 5, 10, 15 min?

      Are dumb?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 5:27pm

      Re: Mike, I thought you said, music industry is on brink of collapse ?

      Almost forgot, sound equipment should be registered and sold only to authorised personnel, it should be regulated as a controlled substances are.

      There should not be people playing guitar or any instrument in public as those things can be used to circumvent DRM and other mechanism for control of music.

      Yeah I see how imaginary property is like real physical property it has all the same properties.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 5:36pm

      Re: Mike, I thought you said, music industry is on brink of collapse ?

      See D. Darryl others can do what you do too, we can also exaggerate everything you say to a FUBAR state, isn't that fun?

      When you understand what copyright is i.e. a granted monopoly supposedly finite, you can stop that BS of yours and try to come up with real arguments.

       

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      Richard, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:28am

      Re: Mike, I thought you said, music industry is on brink of collapse ?

      Darryl, You have consistently said, that you know what you're doing to this country and it's people is wrong. You've said repeatedly that you don't care what it takes, that you want every power that can be diverted from democracy and placed in the hands of the corporate elite. I know you started out to "stop piracy" but like you said, once you realized that you could get away with it.. It was full steam ahead. So now, in order to lord over the population and persecute anyone that you suspect of infringement, you troll the blogs, looking to manufacture hearsay evidence against anyone trying to shed light on your sleazy practice... I know you said something like that?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 4:05pm

    The BPI seem to simply be a poor ineffective PR for the music business and a shame that they are funded by record companies whose money could be better spent elsewhere, for example on developing, sorry, paying artists signed to their label. What is the BPI's role apart from piss-poor PR? Waste of time/money/space.

    Anyone care to explain how they operate? I just read so much about them and don't understand their function.

    A frustrated musician aka anonymous coward!

     

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    J, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 4:26pm

    I've noticed that so called top 10 "Artists" from 2000 to now have been the cookie cutter types with writers and very little, well anything resembling talent. Perhaps the industry recognizes this and can not rely on these posers to pull off live performances, cough, one Ashlee Simpson and countless others. When the musical experience is fabricated on a Mac, the only product with value is the digital recording - Ouch!

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 4th, 2010 @ 6:49pm

    The low end of the live music business isn't doing so well

    Looking at the report I see:

    "The live music industry exhibited a productivity gain in 2009 by generating more money through fewer events."

    "... as reported last year, the gap between the grass roots acts and superstars is widening, both in touring and at events where the big names are needed to attract fans."

    "Down in the tail, the closure of pubs (49 a week, according to The Publican) puts more pressure on the low end of the market, which makes it increasingly difficult for emerging talent to find an audience."

     

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      drew (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 11:30am

      Re: The low end of the live music business isn't doing so well

      Most important comment here. It might all be turning up roses at the top of the tree but getting gigs at the bottom (especially if you're outside london) is getting harder and harder. Funnily the PRS haven't helped with that either...

       

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