By Rebecca J. Shafer

The music industry made more more money in 2012 than it did in 2011; this marks the first time the industry expanded since 1999.

Global sales in the music industry grew this past year for the first time in 13 years, according to a New York Times article. Although the increase was minimal — only .03 percent — it provides some much-needed positivity for those who hope to get involved in the business someday.

Since the music industry’s peak in 1999, revenue has been on a steady decline. We can’t expect hard copy CD sales to see any increases. The rise of digital music media originally meant negative results for the industry. But today, digital subscription services like Spotify and Rhapsody actually help out the industry by providing new ways of accessing music — ways that aren’t illegally downloading tunes off the ‘net.

Yep, it sure seems like the days of LimeWire and BearShare could be over. With the risk they pose and the fact that they bring in zero revenue to the industry, illegal downloads are declining. The number of listeners downloading music with peer-to-peer (P2P) services decreased to 11 percent in 2012 (from 20 percent in 2006), according to Hollywood Reporter. The options available now are safer and quicker. They easily bring users access to millions of songs…and they just make sense.

One-year-old Spotify, for instance, allows users to access the entire library for a monthly subscription fee or for free with mandatory advertisements. This innovation is proving helpful to the industry as a whole — shout out to the Swedes for creating it. It’s become widely popular on college campuses and in homes all around the world. Apple and Google plan to release similar streaming services later this year as well. This healthy competition in the industry could well contribute to another rise in revenue for the music industry in 2013.

Of the $16.5 billion generated in revenue last year, about $5.6 billion of it came from digital music downloads, according to a Hollywood Reporter article. There are approximately 20 million listeners using subscription-based services. Non-traditional methods of accessing music and other forms of entertainment will likely continue to grow, and CD sales to decrease.

From the looks of it, the digital era may turn out to be a blessing to music business after all.

  • praise the heavens! This is great to hear because I plan to work in the music industry.

  • great article

  • Grace

    Definitely great to hear about the industry expanding! What do you think about the idea that services like Spotify are actually preventing the growth of the industry? Unless things have changed in the very recent months, most artists don’t see much money from the company and some artists refuse to let their entire albums on such sites because of that. Do you think there’s any validity to the argument that these services are lowering the number of illegal downloads as well as legal downloads?

  • I think one really great takeaway from this article is the fact that the industry made $5.6 billion off of digital downloads alone last year. Though I’m guilty of frequent music theft, it’s cool to know there are still millions of purists out there. I’m actually super interested in knowing who these people are (age, gender, location, median income, etc.). Does anyone know?