Monday, April 26, 2010

BPI issue sunny news release, make themselves cry to stop us thinking it's alright now

Great news from the BPI: Despite the UK economy having been in recession last year, the UK music industry saw an increase in sales. In money terms:

A strong fourth quarter and increased digital income streams offset the reduced sales of physical formats as the UK recorded music market reported a modest 1.4% annual increase in total trade income for 2009 of £928.8m, BPI’s annual survey of industry income revealed today.

Brilliant news, eh? Champagne all round, barkeep and...

Oh, hang on: if digital sales are growing so strongly, then that kind-of makes the arguments that without supertight new copyright laws, the music industry will vanish look like a bit of a fib. Quick, everyone, turn those grins upside-down:
Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive said: “It’s encouraging to see industry revenues stabilise and even show modest growth in 2009. This is testament to continuing investment by UK labels in talented artists despite challenging economic conditions, and the innovation labels have shown in licensing new digital services.

“But let’s put it in broader perspective: 2009’s modest result follows a five-year drop in annual income, and total industry income has not exceeded £1bn since 2006. The CD continues to show greater resilience than many predicted – it is an excellent digital product. The pace of growth of new digital services is encouraging, but the size of the market continues to be constrained by competition from illegal downloads.”

Does it, though, Geoff? You're telling me that a market which, by the BPI's own figures, has grown by nearly 50% in twelve months is constrained? That seems a little unlikely, doesn't it? Almost as if you're selling convenience and experience, not the actual files themselves, so your growth has nothing to do with what may or may not be happening in the torrents. But don't worry, nobody expects the BPI to say anything that might make its histrionic hijacking of the Digital Economy Bill look any more ridiculous.

Oh - and while you might have had a five year-drop in total take, let's never forget (as you always do) that lower total revenue is in part a side-effect as you move from artificially-highly priced physical albums to lower cost single digital files. It's not the same thing as selling music becoming less profitable. (And if selling music had become less profitable, I have a feeling that would have been in the press release...)