Around this time each year, Omdia completes a roundup of midyear recorded-music sales by country and makes a projection, based on the country figures, of how global sales are likely to have performed for the full year. Some national trade associations present wholesale numbers, while others go with retail figures. Either way, there is enough detail to draw an accurate picture of how global sales are progressing and what the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is likely to tell us when it reveals its annual trade results next April. The short answer to the "how's it all going?" question is "very well, thank you very much." In fact, chances are that global trade sales will increase at a faster rate this year than in 2018. Music writers should all prepare to search the archives for a growth rate higher than in 2019. But digging into the sales details a little and comparing countries' likely performance produces two striking conclusions: emerging markets are living up to their name, and the US remains the foundation on which the global recorded-music sector is operating.
Although few will be surprised to hear that emerging markets are increasing their share of global trade sales, what is surprising is that the US is doing the same. If the illustration above turns out to be correct, then the US will generate 36.3% of global digital/physical trade sales in 2019, compared with 31.6% for the next four biggest markets put together. Another interesting result is that the US will add an extra $1.1m to the global pot, equivalent to more than four times the extra revenue generated by Japan, the UK, Germany, and France combined, and only slightly less than all the other countries in the rest of the world ($1.2bn). Record companies are rightly expanding their reach to all corners of the world, with offices springing up in countries that have previously contributed very little to rights holders' coffers. But they should still keep one eye on the US as it is doing much of the leg work in keeping the recorded-music growth momentum on track. Maintaining the growth momentum in the world's biggest market is equally as important as hunting out the markets of tomorrow.