The state of the Australian recorded music industry in 2009

ARIA has released it’s wholesale revenue and sales volume figures for 2009 and the results are in no way as grim as they were 12 months back.

12 months ago the industry was hemorrhaging – down 8% year on year off the back of a significant drop in physical album sales and a lack of digital download revenue to cover the bleed.

I covered the 2008 results here –

So what are the key takeouts for 2009

physical album sales are relatively flat … which is positive. Revenue is down 0.9% and unit sales down 3%. People are still buying CDs but they are still behind where they were in 2007. So much for the stories ‘no one is buying cds anymore’
physical music DVD sales aren’t in great shape. They are down about 10% in revenue and around 20% in volume since 2007.  Most of this loss happened in 2008 but in 2009 they failed to regain much ground – up 2% in units and down 1% revenue wise
Digital individual track sales are up 44% in a unit sense and 42% revenue wise. It’s interesting to note as an industry digital track sales (ex albums) is only worth $38m. Add albums and it’s only $59m. That is just over 10% of the total music industry in a CD/DVD sense so still not a massive proportion.
– Digital album sales were encouraging – units up 72% and revenue up 66% – albeit from a low base. There were 2.3m digital albums sold in 2009 … compared with 28m physical albums sold.
Ringtones are struggling – down 23% in a unit and revenue sense. Since 2007 the areas has gone from a $10m business to just over $6m.

The best results, the category ‘Digital Other’ was up from $5.7m to $12.5m … over a 100% increase. ‘Digital other’ includes sales of digital music videos, mobile ringback tones, streams, subscriptions, ad supported income, advances and one-off payments.

It’s unclear from these figures were growth for the traditional industry will come from. Even if digital album sales to ‘tip’ … they will come at the expense of physical album sales. The only upside – it appears the margin on digital albums are stronger than physical.

Another thing that is apparent is that the digital component of legal music is still small in volume. To have digital album sales in the area of 2m units shows that the overwhelming majority of music in a digital sense is being downloaded. Given there’s approximately 14m Internet users in Australia, it means at best only 1 in 7 would have downloaded an album legally in the past year.

The figures are here –


2 responses to “The state of the Australian recorded music industry in 2009

  1. Pingback: The state of the Australian recorded music industry in 2009 … | australianews

  2. Slightly off-topic and more to do with my long-standing interest in the trials and travails of the music industry but I highly recommend a book called called “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Rolling Stone and Wired Magazine writer Steve Knopper. Covers the industry from the death of disco through to the (almost) present. I’ve just been through it again in light of the iiNet/AFACT decision.

    Interestingly the all-time peak for CD sales in the USA was in the year 2000.

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