America Envy: Why Spotify Could Be the Next Robbie Williams

America may be losing its footing on the global stage, but its importance to the music industry remains paramount.

That is, for any venture, artist or investor seeking a serious global footprint.  According to the IFPI, the United States easily topped the worldwide ranking in 2009 with recording retail sales alone approaching $8 billion.  That handily cleared second-place Japan ($5.5 billion) and dwarfed the third-place UK ($2.2 billion).

In fact, the US market in 2009 was larger than that of the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Sweden combined, also according to the same stats.

No wonder EMI wanted Robbie Williams to cross the pond so badly.  “Breaking America” was a leading objective behind the massive, 360-degree deal inked last decade, regardless of whether things tee-totaled financially.  Just talk to executives inside the label at the time, not the post-deal revisionists – or worse, those harboring some sort of Anti-American sentiment.

But this is not about the political stage, cowboy diplomacy or obese SUV-driving Americans.  It’s about making money, regardless of who’s whipping out that over-extended credit card.  And that is exactly why Spotify keeps banging on the stateside door, why Daniel Ek keeps giving the media inaccurate timetables, and why Spotify investors are getting a bit nervous.  Edgar Bronfman isn’t waging two wars, but he is part of an executive group making life very difficult for the latest freemium gamble.  And, in the end, Ek and Spotify’s investors can’t risk repeating a Robbie Williams outcome – not at this valuation, not at this level of expectation.

Paul Resnikoff, Publisher. 

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Enlarged version here.

10 Responses

  1. oyster

    Spotify are toast. The ad-driven model is hopelessly broken and delivers miserable revenues.

    The subscription model delivers for labels and artists a tiny fraction of ARPU (average revenue per user) compared to itunes or physical sales.

    Ek spouts on and on about “music is like water” but music is NOT like water – it is not a natural resource, but a product of human creativity.

    Ek wants to be the Wallmart or Tesco of the digital music economy. His business model is 19th century capitalism and based on total exploitation of the artist.

    “It’s one for you 19 for me – Spotify!!!” (apologies to The Beatles “Taxman”)

  2. @courtneyesmith (via Twitter)

    Wow, so the US’s digital sales in ’09 were 43% of the total market share, but it was only 19% in the UK? Fascinating.

  3. @Crow74 (via Twitter)

    NL op 8e plaats in Top-20 van landen met meeste muziekverkopen

    [Translation: NL at eighth place in Top 20 countries with the most music sales.]

  4. @simonkaspar (via Twitter)

    Aktueller Entwicklungsstand der# Musikindustie in Zahlen: In den USA schon die Hälfte via Download

    [Translation: State of the music industry in numbers. In the US, almost half of sales are via download]

  5. @RaulCeron (via Twitter)

    Cuento estao vendendo os E.U no panorama global

  6. Nikke

    Or: UK, Germany and Japan combined are about 2 billion dollars bigger market than the US. And the grand question is which one was down the most last year? US, Japan, UK or Germany.

    UK, Sweden and many other European countries have had music in the cloud with Spotify for nearly two years. & if Spotify would be a silicon valley company it would get a break from American music business people and technology press.

    Besides many of those who comment on Spotify have never even tried it.

    Americans invented the music business. Who’s reinventing that’s the question for now.

  7. @uebersaxx (via Twitter)

    In what countries do people still pay for music? Interesting chart…

  8. @The_Gap (via Twitter)

    Plattenverkäufe 2009: AUT auf Platz 14. Meistverkaufte Physikalische in GER mit 85%, Digitale in CVR mit 55%

  9. @moggg

    Interesting to look at it per capita. Based on 2010 estimated populations, the USA aren’t so important:

    1. Japan – $42.86

    2. UK – $34.73

    3. Denmark – $30.65

    4. Austria – $29.83

    5. Switzerland – $29.01

    6. Germany – $26.26

    7. USA – $25.60

    8. Australia – $25.14

    9. Netherlands – $22.01

    10. France – $21.08

    11. Belgium – $20.33

    12. Sweden – $19.37

    13. Canada – $15.24

    14. Spain – $6.92

    15. South Korea – $5.72

    16. Italy – $5.60

    17. Mexico – $1.76

    18. Russia – $1.63

    19. Brazil – $1.50

    20. India – $0.17

    Now does anyone have marketing $ spent per country??