Global streaming nears $17B in 2021, leading the worldwide recorded music market to $26B

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) released its full-year 2021 report of worldwide recorded music revenue. (PDF download HERE.) As with the recent U.S. report supplied by the RIAA (our coverage HERE), streaming music was the leading revenue category around the world in 2021.

According to the IFPI, paid subscription streaming revenues increased by 21.9% US$12.3 billion.  There were 523 million users of paid subscription accounts at the end of 2021. Total streaming (including both paid subscription and advertising-supported) grew by 24.3% to reach US$16.9 billion, or 65.0% of total global recorded music revenues.

The timeline below illustrates that overall revenue in 2021 broke the 1999 high water mark globally, just as the U.S. did in the RIAA report.

Dark blue = total global streaming revenue

“Today’s music market is the most competitive in memory,” noted Frances Moore, Chief Executive of IFPI. “Today, there are no barriers to entry; anyone can record a song and post it for the world to enjoy. That’s an enormous opportunity. But with some 60,000 songs uploaded every single day to one leading platform alone, it’s harder than ever for artists to cut through and be noticed.”

Record labels are the answer to the musicians’ dilemma, according to Moore. The IFPI is the trade group for record labels, and that advocacy is expressed in nearly every paragraph of this report. “This report is all about music’s exciting and evolving journey,” Frances Moore says, “and the people at record labels who are making possible new, extraordinarily engaging and immersive opportunities for artists and their fans.”


Brad Hill