Music Market Analysis 2023

Global Music Industry: Partnerships and Collaborations Between Major Record Labels and Digital Streaming Services

The global music industry has evolved significantly with the advent of digital streaming services. Major record labels such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group have collaborated with streaming giants like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube to create new revenue streams for both artists and their labels.
We aim understand the impact of these partnerships on revenue distribution and growth in the global music industry.

Partnerships and collaborations

Universal Music Group (UMG):
UMG has partnered with major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music to distribute its music catalog on their platforms. In 2018, UMG signed a multi-year deal with Spotify, ensuring both companies work together on marketing campaigns and innovations to enhance the overall user experience.

This partnership has expanded into exclusive album drops during "Spotlight Week", where selected tracks would receive prominent placement in playlists, editorial banners, and early access to fans.

UMG signed an agreement with YouTube in 2017, which expanded the global distribution of its music on the platform, and included a commitment to developing new and innovative ad-supported experiences for its users. Additionally, UMG announced new ways to increase exposure for independent music creators through its Youtube Artist Studio program
Sony Music Entertainment (SME):
SME has similar partnerships with digital streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music. Sony signed a licensing deal with Spotify in 2016, allowing the latter to stream its artists' music, and paving the way for Spotify's successful IPO in 2018.
In addition, SME has a deal with YouTube, which facilitates the distribution of its music on the platform.
Warner Music Group (WMG):
WMG, like its counterparts, has strong alliances with streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. Its partnership with Spotify, established in 2017, focuses on collaborative marketing, innovation, and revenue sharing. These endeavors include cooperating on developing premium tiers like "Spotify X" and partnering in marketing campaigns.

Furthermore, WMG's deal with Apple Music reportedly generates more revenue per stream for its artists than any other major label.

Impact on the revenue distribution and growth in the global music industry:

Increased revenue: Digital streaming services have become a significant source of revenue for major record labels, with streaming revenues surpassing physical sales and downloads in recent years.
According to IFPI's 2023 edition of its Global Music Report, the total global recorded music industry revenues were $22.66 bn (€19.4bn) in 2020, down slightly compared to 2019 to 21.6 billion (€19.2 billion) but grew significantly (+5.2%) to reach $24.3 billion (€20.6 billion) in 2021.
In 2022, the global recorded music industry saw another year of solid growth, exceeding €22 billion (around $25.8 billion) for the first time since 2001; this represents a significant increase of +7.4% compared to 2021.
By 2023, the trend seems to be continuing, as preliminary estimates show the industry approaching €24 billion (around $28.44 billion) based on unaudited returns in certain key markets
Fairer revenue distribution: The partnerships between major record labels and streaming services have facilitated the negotiation of better revenue distribution models. For instance, the multi-year licensing deals between these companies have resulted in artists receiving higher royalties.
Moreover, direct collaborations between artists and streaming platforms, such as Spotify's "Direct Licensing" initiative, allow artists to retain a higher share of their revenues.
Growth in paid subscriptions: The collaboration between major record labels and streaming services has contributed to the growth of paid subscriptions. As of 2019, IFPI reported that 255 million users worldwide had opted for paid streaming services. This growth has a direct impact on the global music industry, as paid subscriptions generate higher revenues compared to ad-supported services.

As of 2019, there were over 255 million people using paid music subscription services across the globe, resulting in high revenues. According to IFPI's reports, total recorded music revenue grew to $21.6 billion globally by 2020, although it was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By 2021, the industry reached nearly $24.3 billion. Despite being affected again by the new variant concerns in 2022, the global music market saw growth up to $25.8 billion, which represents a compound annual growth rate of 4.2% since 2015.

In the first half of 2023, revenue dropped to around €19.45 billion but is estimated to recover later.

During this time frame, the number of paid streaming subscribers increased rapidly; exceeding 733 million in June 2023.

Thus, we may expect continued development for both paid music subscriptions and the digital music market overall, influenced by technological advancements and evolving consumer behavior.
Increased investment in new talent: With the growth in revenue from digital streaming, major record labels have increased their investment in new talent. As a result, artists can expect better financial support and resources for their music projects, leading to higher quality content and a more competitive global music market.


The partnerships and collaborations between major record labels and digital streaming services have had a positive impact on the revenue distribution and growth of the global music industry. The increased revenue generated has enabled artists to receive higher royalties and facilitated better investment in new talent.
Furthermore, the growing popularity of paid subscriptions ensures a more sustainable revenue model for the industry as a whole.
As the digital music landscape continues to evolve, it is expected that these strategic partnerships will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future of the industry and providing fans with easy access to a vast array of quality music choices. Through continued innovation and advancements in technology, both sides stand to benefit from mutually beneficial relationships, ultimately driving further growth and success for all parties involved.
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