It’s been dry at much pretty every festival so far and the sun has been shining on the biz in more ways than one this summer.
After last week’s good news about the Q2 figures and the return of multiple debut artist breakthroughs, the data for the first half of the year looks, if anything, even rosier.
Album equivalent sales for the first six months of 2017 are up 11.6% and, while actual sales of albums are down (except for vinyl, which is up another 32.2%), physical albums only dropped 3.9%, even while streams surged 53.2%.
How long that double whammy can continue is open to debate but my guess would be: for as long as the biz can keep operating on two different levels. Because it’s clear that there are now two markets out there: a young, track-driven streaming audience and an older, album-oriented crowd that still values bodies of work and physical product.
Right now, the biz is serving both pretty spectacularly. And the album picture looks much better this year than it did 12 months ago, largely because of Rag’N’Bone Man, Take That and others’ ability to shift big numbers of physical records, while Drake and Stormzy pile up the streams (and Ed Sheeran, of course, does both).
Sooner or later, the biz will need to decide whether it actually wants to migrate those punters over to streaming services or to reinvest in physical, a product that most people thought would be long dead by now.
Pretty soon thoughts will turn to holidays and Q4 campaigns and the nights might start to draw in figuratively as well as literally. But until then, I suggest we all sit back in the sunshine and enjoy the golden music biz summer of 2017.