Want to make it in the new music industry?
Then make sure you have the chops to play in front of a crowd. According to the latest estimates from University of Liverpool researcher Dave Laing, the global touring industry has probably grown larger than the global recording industry.
And if 2012 is roughly the breakpoint, the broader trend is fairly obvious. “The first indications of the market last year (such as Pollstar’s 4 percent increase in North American ticket sales) suggest that the live business worldwide may have returned to growth and may have definitively overtaken the record industry in revenue terms,” Laing described in an overview recently published by Live Music Exchange.
Laing is wading in a difficult swamp of data, and playing the role of cautious researcher well. Concert-related figures are fairly scattered and incomplete, and global estimates quite difficult to concoct. On the recording side, the data is far more robust, but routinely skewed by the recording-focused organizations that track and publish this data (ie, the IFPI, RIAA, BPI, etc.)
All of which makes Laing’s data compilation all the more impressive – and convincing of a broader trend. Here’s the breakdown of concert receipts for some of the largest worldwide markets, cobbled from a variety of regional authorities (values ultimately translated into US$)…
In most countries, the touring market is rebounding, and in some countries, the data tells a very clear story. “Both the Italian and British research can be used to make a direct comparison,” Laing details. “In Italy, live music was reported to be worth €781 million and recorded music €419 million. The UK research states that ‘business to consumer’ totals were £1.24 billion (recorded music) and £1.48 billion (live music).”
See where this is going? In 2010, the IFPI estimated (er, inflated) the global recording market at $25.8 billion, which beats the higher-end concert industry estimate of $25 billion that Laing created for that year. That said, 2010 was an implosive year for live concerts – especially in the US – and the humble beginnings of a recovery. The recording industry, however, has continued to lose ground – with revenues, not units, taking a substantial hit.