Entertainment

Adele's bestselling 25 sparks global music revenue rise

Adele had the world's bestselling album last year, a global smash that helped music revenues record their first significant growth since the dawn of the digital age two decades ago.

Rise marks 'industry's first significant year-on-year growth in nearly two decades'

International music revenues recorded their first significant growth since the dawn of the digital age two decades ago, largely thanks to British singer Adele's smash, chart-topping album 25. (Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Adele had the world's bestselling album last year, a global smash that helped music revenues record their first significant growth since the dawn of the digital age two decades ago.

Figures released Tuesday by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry show that the British singer's chart-topping 25 sold 17.4 million copies — five times more than runners-up Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, whose albums X and 1989 both sold 3.5 million copies.

The year's bestselling single was See You Again by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, which moved 20.9 million copies.

The IFPI said global revenues from recorded music rose 3.2 per cent between 2014 and 2015, to $15 billion US, as an industry decimated by the digital revolution returned to growth.

The group said the rise marks "the industry's first significant year-on-year growth in nearly two decades."

IFPI chief executive Frances Moore said the figures "reflect an industry that has adapted to the digital age and emerged stronger and smarter."

Ed Sheeran was one of the distant runners-up to Adele, with the British singer-songwriter selling 3.5 million copies of his album X last year. ( Charles Sykes/Invision/Associated Press)

Sales of digital music, including streaming and downloads, accounted for 45 per cent of the total, compared to 39 per cent for vinyl, CDs and other physical products — the first time digital music has generated the biggest share of revenue. Performance-rights revenue accounts for most of the remainder.

Online, people increasingly listen to music by streaming rather than downloading. Streaming revenue rose by 45 per cent in 2015, while money from downloads declined by 10.5 per cent.

Gap between consumption and compensation

Despite revenue rising overall, the report says there is a growing gap between the amount of music being consumed and the money being returned to artists and producers.

Taylor Swift, whose 1989 sold 3.5 million copies last year, has spoken out about fair pay for recording artists on digital music services. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The IFPI said this "value gap" has increased due to the growing popularity of music being streamed on advertising-supported "user upload" services such as YouTube, which argue that they are exempt from the licensing rules applied to other online music services — and so pay less to musicians and record companies.

Moore said that "the value gap is the biggest constraint to revenue growth for artists, record labels and all music rights holders" and lawmakers around the world should close the streaming loophole.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now