Goldman Sachs Releases Dialed-Down ‘Music in the Air’ Report — While Maintaining Its $150 Billion+ 2030 Annual Revenue Forecast

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A distant shot of the Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City, New Jersey. Photo Credit: Jordan Merrick

Last year, in its annual “Music in the Air” report, Goldman Sachs forecasted explosive music industry growth – to the tune of $153 billion in annual revenue by 2030. Now, following some questions about the bullish stance and particularly the underlying figures, Goldman has released a 2023 report with dialed-down predictions.

In pointing to the possibility of a cool $153 billion in yearly industry revenue – up substantially from a prior projection of around $131 billion – Goldman in the 2022 analysis made clear its belief that streaming was showing “no sign of saturation.”

Additionally, citing this optimistic assessment and the return of crowd-based entertainment, Goldman last year went ahead and upped its 2022 revenue forecast (including recorded, publishing, and live-performance income alike) from $81.6 billion to $87.6 billion.

While not implausible – needless to say, the industry today looks dramatically different than it did in 2016 – these and similar Music in the Air predictions raised questions about the analysis’ methodology, conclusions, inflation adjustments, and objectivity.

Digital Music News then explored the subjects (and highlighted Goldman’s related industry interests), detailing, among other things, the possible revenue byproducts of streaming subscription growth within developing markets as well as the inherent unknowns associated with the emergence of unprecedented platforms and technologies.

Bearing in mind the ideas, Goldman in the 2023 iteration of Music in the Air slightly reduced its 2030 industry revenue forecast to $151.4 billion – also lowering its 2023 prediction, this time from $94.9 billion to $92 billion, per Music Ally.

More carefully shared with the media than the 2022 report, Music in the Air 2023 likewise addresses an anticipated reduction in recorded revenue for the year ($28.2 billion, down from an initially expected $30 billion) and live revenue ($28.1 billion, down from $29.1 billion), with a relatively modest publishing uptick of $1 billion to $8.8 billion, according to the mentioned outlet’s summary.

“The music industry is on the cusp of another major structural change given the persistent under-monetisation of music content, outdated streaming royalty payout structures and the deployment of Generative AI,” reads one section of the report, describing as “key” to capitalizing upon this structural change “a more coordinated and collaborative response from the main stakeholders.”

Elsewhere in the document, Goldman appeared to echo the sentiments of the Big Three regarding the quality of content on streaming platforms and the perceived need for compensation reform, besides emphasizing the perceived potential of superfans to drive additional revenue.

Lastly, Music Ally also indicated that Goldman had in the report attributed six percent of recorded music’s 2022 revenue to “emerging platforms” such as Facebook (approximately $361 million), Peloton ($267 million), TikTok ($220 million), and YouTube Shorts ($126 million).

These figures derived from expanded calculations of the disclosed data – or six percent of $26.2 billion in 2022 recorded income, about $1.57 billion, and the percentage share assigned by Goldman to each of the mentioned “emerging platforms.” Perhaps the most notable of the stats is that attached to YouTube Shorts; YouTube execs previously placed the video-sharing platform’s total annual music industry payments at $6 billion.