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UK music publishing market benefiting from the decline in music piracy

Industry Sector

Publishing and Printing


7 March 2013


Matt Bodimeade

Type of News


The UK music publishing market grew substantially throughout 2012 to reach a value of £1.6 billion in 2012, making it the second-largest in the world.

Despite the fact that digital media downloads have risen significantly, the physical format is continuing to maintain a strong position.

There are two distinct businesses within this industry: music publishers, which earn about 78% of revenue; and sound recording studios, which draw the other 22%.

Demand for sound recording studios has weakened as the record companies have reduced their investment in producing recorded music. As they become increasingly budget-conscious, record labels are using less studio time and cutting back on the more expensive premium studio services.

The publishing of recorded audio media industry in the UK is made up of very small businesses - in 2012, 99% of companies in the UK publishing of recorded audio media industry were micro-sized and extra small players employing fewer than 20 workers.

Nevertheless, 65% of the industry's turnover was generated by 15 companies, the largest being EMI Group, MBL Group, Chrysalis, Music Sales Group and Sony Music Entertainment UK.

Although the UK's digital music market continues to expand, record levels of illegal downloading still present a serious threat to the country's online music future. It is estimated that around three-quarters of music downloaded via the Internet is unlicensed and illegal, with no money going back to artists, songwriters or record producers.

Concerned UK authorities are continually taking action to protect copyright and strike the right balance between the content industries, including music, and the technology companies, to create a climate in which innovation can flourish while copyrights are protected.

However, on a brighter note, online music piracy across the world "declined significantly" in 2012, according to a new report. The NPD Group said last year the number of users on peer-to-peer (P2P) illegally downloading music fell by 17% - down to 21 million worldwide.

The music industry has undertaken a sizable campaign over several years to see illegal sites and services put out of business. More than half the users who stopped using illegal sites said they now preferred legal services such as the UK-headquartered Spotify.

In the UK, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) took action to the courts, obtaining a court order to force internet service providers to block access to file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.

For more information on the UK music publishing market, see the latest research: UK Music Publishing Market

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