Listening to the music with Spotify app

Streaming music services now represent 80 per cent of all listening

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Some 80 per cent of music is now listened to via streaming services with over 138bn music streams in the UK last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said.

In a new report, the body said that streaming has transformed the music industry and was largely delivering “good outcomes” for consumers.

However, it warned that market changes could harm consumer interests, for example if the balance of power changed and labels and streaming services began to make sustained and substantial excess profits.

Recorded music revenues reached £1.1bn in 2021 despite fixed monthly subscription fees that have been falling in real terms.

Access to a wide range of music from all eras also means that older songs can more easily get a new lease of life and find new audiences. Some 86 per cent of streams in 2021 were for music over a year old.

The report also found that digitisation has made it easier than ever for many more artists to record and share music and find an audience. The number of artists streaming music has doubled between 2014 and 2020 – from around 200,000 to 400,000.

Nevertheless, the market was found to be “challenging” for many creators, with a broadly stable income, but an increasing number of artists splitting the same amount of money. As has always been the case, while a small number of high-profile artists enjoy huge financial success, the large majority do not make substantial earnings.

Against the backdrop of 138 billion overall streams in 2021, CMA analysis has found that one million streams per month could earn an artist around £12,000 a year.

The recorded music sector is largely dominated by just three major record labels, although the CMA said that its evidence shows that this concentrated market is not causing consumers or artists harm at the moment.

Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive of the CMA, said: “Streaming has transformed music. Technology is opening the door to many new artists to find an audience and music lovers can access a vast array of music, old and new, for prices that have fallen in real terms.

“But for many artists it is just as tough as it has always been, and many feel that they are not getting a fair deal. Our initial analysis shows that the outcomes for artists are not driven by issues to do with competition, such as sustained excessive profits.

“We are now keen to hear views on our initial findings which will help guide our thinking and inform our final report.”

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