European music in numbers

Here are some useful statistics:


  • IMPALA represents almost 5000 independent music companies and national associations.
  • IMPALA Sales Awards represent over 100 million albums sold and €1.5 billion in revenue.

The independents

  • The music sector consists of thousands of independents and (since September 2012) 3 multinationals – “the majors”.
  • 99% of music businesses are micro, small or medium sized enterprises – “the independents”.
  • The independents are the innovators and early adopters, discovering new talent and producing 80% of all new releases.
  • The independents are responsible for 80% of the sector’s jobs, in line with the average 80% of Europe’s jobs generated by SMEs (read more here) to be completed link is dead.
  • The global independent record label sector is worth $6.9bn representing 39.9% of the global market (key statistics and this infographic (link dead) are taken from WIN’s analysis of the independent music sector).
  • The biggest independent now has only 1.5% of the market. Previously this was 7%. The biggest major has 34%.
  • The combined market share of the majors is more than 80% (including distribution), climbing to a massive 95% for Top 100 on radio in Europe (read more here). Even the Top 2000 is concentrated – only 10% is independent.
  • Merlin (the global digital rights agency for the independent label sector) members’ distribution revenue grew eightfold since 2012 and reached $2bn (2019).
  • 81% of Merlin members said their overall business increased in 2018- up from 67% in 2017.
  • More than half (51%) of Merlin members reported in 2018 (compared to 39% in 2017) that digital income currently accounts for more than 75% of their overall business revenues and 49% that audio streaming now accounts for the bulk (over 70%) of these digital revenues (compared to 20% in 2014) (2019).
  • On the other hand, 79% of Merlin members have reported that video streaming accounts for less than 25% of their digital revenues. A percentage that is practically unchanged from member surveys stretching back to 2014 (2019).
  • 85% of Merlin members are optimistic about the future of their business (2019).
  • 42% of Merlin members stated that the majority of their digital revenues originate from consumption from outside their home territory – compared to 18% for physical revenues from sales of CD and vinyl (2018).

European music

  • European cultural & creative sectors account for 4,4% of EU GDP and 12 million full-time jobs.
  • Europe generates over one third of global recorded music revenues.
  • European recorded music revenues totalled $6.02 billion in 2018. Streaming revenues grew to $2.67 billion (representing 29,9% of total streaming revenues worldwide).
  • In Europe, paid subscription for audio stream represent 78,9% of streaming revenues (rest: 9,9% for ad-supported audio and 11,2% for video stream).
  • Performance rights grew to $1.4 billion in 2018, representing 51,9% of total performance rights revenues worldwide.
  • Copyright-intensive sectors account for 9.9 million EU jobs.
  • Copyright-intensive industries make a positive contribution to the EU’s trade balance: net export of €15bn.

Music industry

  • In 2018, global recorded music revenues totalled $19.1 billion. An increase of 9.7% compared to 2017.
  • The music industry’s digital revenues (including streaming) grew by 20,4% in 2018, to $11,2bn (2018).
  • Digital music revenues now account for 58.9% of total industry revenues, compared to 25% for physical sales (2018). 
  • Revenues from streaming grew to $8.9 billion in 2018 – a growth of 34% compared to 2017 – to become the industry’s primary digital revenue stream (2018).
  • Number of paying subscribers rose to 255 million in 2018 (176 million in 2017).
  • Revenues from video stream increased by 20% but remains the smallest increase across all revenue sources (2018).
  • Physical sales faced a decline of -10.1% but vinyl sales kept on increasing (+6%) (2018).
  • 50% of top tracks played on radio and downloaded in Europe are American.
  • Record companies invested $4.5 bn in research and development and marketing in 2015, representing 27% of these companies’ revenues.
  • As a whole, the music industry invested 16.9% of its revenue in research and development for new artists in 2015. It is higher than other research-intensive industries (e.g. pharmaceuticals and biotechnology 14.4%, software and computer services 10.1%, aerospace and defence 4.5%, etc.).
  • IPR‐intensive industries pay significantly higher wages than other industries, with a wage premium of more than 40%, with copyright-intensive sectors having the highest premium (69%).

Digital services and social media

  • There are more than 230 digital music services available across the EU, providing access to more than 40 million tracks.
  • 6 of the top 10 most liked people on Facebook are music artists (updated: June 2016).
  • 7 of the top 10 most followed people on Twitter are music artists (updated: June 2016).
  • 9 of the top 10 most watched videos of all time on YouTube are music videos. Out of the top 20, 18 are music videos (updated: June 2016).

The value gap

  • YouTube makes up 47% of on-demand music streaming 
  • Video streaming overall makes up 52% of on demand music streaming (paid audio streaming 28% & free audio streaming 20%)
  • In 2017, with 272m users audio streams (paid & free) generated $5.569bn, while video streams with 1.3bn users generated $856m 
  • Globally, 38% consume music through copyright infringement.
  • Spotify paid record companies $20 per user in 2015 while Youtube returned less than $1 for each user.
  • Merlin members report that video streaming services command 10 times more users than audio streaming services – but return less than 10% of the revenues
  • On the perception of online platforms by Europeans, a Harris Poll found that:
  • 64 % of Europeans polled believe that over the past 5 years the European Union has not done enough to regulate the power of the U.S. Tech Giants.
  • 74 % of Europeans think that when the Tech Giants speak out on an issue, they do so to protect their own economic interests rather than the public interest.
  • 80% of Europeans are in favor of the European Union implementing rules to guarantee the remuneration of artists and content creators for the distribution of their content on internet platforms.

Further statistics

  • WIN global market share analysis of the independent music sector: download key statistic and the full report.
  • The State of the Industry report – IFPI: click here
  • Interesting report on domination of European radio by American repertoire, includes useful statistics on key territories, shows majors/independents’ market share, very scary… Cross Border Circulation of European Music Repertoire.pdf
  • Interesting report on record companies’ investment in music: click here (link dead)
  • Merlin members’ survey (2019): click here almost

IMPALA – Independent Music Companies Association

Coudenberg 70, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM

+32 2 503 31 38