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Cents and Sounds: How Music Streaming Makes Money

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Music Streaming Infographic

How Music Streaming Makes Money

The global music market experienced its fourth consecutive year of growth in 2018, generating over $19 billion in revenue. Music streaming now accounts for almost half of that revenue, with 255 million paid users worldwide.

music streaming revenue

Today’s infographic from Global Web Index compares the popularity of streaming services, exploring how streaming behavior differs by age group and region.

While listeners can now gain access to an abundance of streaming options—is the success of the industry good news for everyone?

The Age of Streaming

Streaming platforms are web-based services that allow users to listen to high-definition music without having to download and store large files.

The foundations of music streaming were laid by peer-to-peer file sharing system Napster when it was created in 2001, followed by Apple’s iTunes a couple of years later. Spotify, in an attempt to combat music piracy, was founded in 2006 by Swedish duo Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon.

Today, 68% of adults use a music streaming service of some kind. According to Global Web Index, Gen Z leads the way with the highest average streaming times, accessing their favorite tracks across multiple platforms.

How Streaming Platforms Make Money

There are currently 33 active streaming platforms available, with a range of different features and characteristics available. Spotify and Apple Music, the largest of the streaming giants, rely on almost identical models to generate revenue:

  • Paid Subscriptions: Advertising drives free users towards monthly subscription packages, which include a premium offering for $10 a month and a family offering for $15 a month.
  • Advertising: Advertisers pay for exposure, with ads played every 15 minutes for 30 seconds, and can also include sponsored playlists, and homepage takeovers.

Spotify

With 217 million active users, and revenues of almost $6 billion in 2018, Spotify is the global leader in music streaming.

For Spotify, 91% of the company’s revenue comes from its 100 million paid subscriptions—double that of Apple Music—while the other 9% comes from advertising.

Apple Music

Apple’s streaming service commands a larger user-base than Spotify in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa regions.

While Apple Music has not been a profitable move for the company, the streaming platform bolsters Apple’s ecosystem of services—encouraging a more loyal consumer base.

How Artists Make Money

For both Spotify and Apple Music, 70% of the revenue generated from paid subscriptions and advertising goes towards paying music labels and artists.

Both platforms use the pro-rata model, which pays based on the total share of streams each artist has. For example, if $100 million is generated in revenue, and an artist accounts for 1% of all streams, then they would receive $1 million in royalties.

However, artists advocate for a fairer, more user-centric model that would pay artists based on who each user listens to the most, using their subscription fee. Smaller platforms like Deezer are moving towards a user-centric model and pressuring more established platforms to do the same.

The Future of Streaming

Over the next decade, the music streaming industry will continue to transform, with new innovations presenting significant opportunities and challenges for both streaming platforms and consumers alike.

  • Personalization: Streaming platforms are using technology to fully understand a user’s listening habits and to tailor music recommendations directly to them.
  • Original Content: Spurred on by the growth of streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, Spotify’s purchase of Gimlet Media for over $200 million signals the beginning of streaming platforms investing in original content.
  • Premium Prices: Artists and music labels are demanding more for music, forcing streaming platforms to hike their subscription rates in an attempt to make up for lost revenue.
  • Live Streaming: With live streaming rising in popularity, artists can offer audiences an intimate connection and more authentic version of their music.

Currently, artists can increase their chances of being featured on more playlists and ultimately earn more money by altering their music based on streaming platform algorithms. For example, artists only get paid if their song is listened to for 30 seconds, which results in much shorter songs that open with the chorus to keep the listener’s attention.

While streaming platforms continue to provide more avenues for artists to get in front of the right ears, many industry critics argue that music is no longer about creating something for pure enjoyment, but rather about using a formulaic approach to make more money.

Is the future of music safe in the hands of tech giants?

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Finance

Intangible Assets: A Hidden but Crucial Driver of Company Value

Intangible assets – such as goodwill and intellectual property – have rapidly risen in importance compared to tangible assets like cash.

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valuing intangible assets

Intangible Assets Take Center Stage

View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here

In 2018, intangible assets for S&P 500 companies hit a record value of $21 trillion. These assets, which are not physical in nature and include things like intellectual property, have rapidly risen in importance compared to tangible assets like cash.

Today’s infographic from Raconteur highlights the growth of intangible asset valuations, and how senior decision-makers view intangibles when making investment decisions.

Tracking the Growth of Intangibles

Intangibles used to play a much smaller role than they do now, with physical assets comprising the majority of value for most enterprise companies. However, an increasingly competitive and digital economy has placed the focus on things like intellectual property, as companies race to out-innovate one another.

To measure this historical shift, Aon and the Ponemon Institute analyzed the value of intangible and tangible assets over nearly four and a half decades on the S&P 500. Here’s how they stack up:

Intangible vs. Tangible Assets

Source: Aon

In just 43 years, intangibles have evolved from a supporting asset into a major consideration for investors – today, they make up 84% of all enterprise value on the S&P 500, a massive increase from just 17% in 1975.

The Largest Companies by Intangible Value

Digital-centric sectors, such as internet & software and technology & IT, are heavily reliant on intangible assets.

Brand Finance, which produces an annual ranking of companies based on intangible value, has companies in these sectors taking the top five spots on the 2019 edition of their report.

RankCompanySectorTotal Intangible ValueShare of Enterprise Value
1MicrosoftInternet & Software$904B90%
2AmazonInternet & Software$839B93%
3AppleTechnology & IT$675B77%
4AlphabetInternet & Software$521B65%
5FacebookInternet & Software$409B79%
6AT&TTelecoms$371B84%
7TencentInternet & Software$365B88%
8Johnson & JohnsonPharma$361B101%
9VisaBanking$348B100%
10AlibabaInternet & Software$344B86%
11NestleFood$313B89%
12Procter & GambleCosmetics & Personal Care$305B101%
13Anheuser-Busch InBevBeers$304B99%
14VerizonTelecoms$300B83%
15ComcastMedia$276B92%
16MastercardBanking$259B99%
17NovartisPharma$252B101%
18WalmartRetail$252B68%
19UnitedhealthHealthcare$245B94%
20PfizerPharma$235B98%

Note: Percentages may exceed 100% due to rounding.

Microsoft overtook Amazon for the top spot in the ranking for 2019, with $904B in intangible assets. The company has the largest commercial cloud business in the world.

Pharma and healthcare companies are also prominent on the list, comprising four of the top 20. Their intangible value is largely driven by patents, as well as mergers and acquisitions. Johnson & Johnson, for example, reported $32B in patents and trademarks in their latest annual report.

A Lack of Disclosure

It’s important to note that Brand Finance’s ranking is based on both disclosed intangibles—those that are reported on a company’s balance sheet—and undisclosed intangibles. In the ranking, undisclosed intangibles were calculated as the difference between a company’s market value and book value.

The majority of intangibles are not reported on balance sheets because accounting standards do not recognize them until a transaction has occurred to support their value. While many accounting managers see this as a prudent measure to stop unsubstantiated asset values, it means that many highly valuable intangibles never appear in financial reporting. In fact, 34% of the total worth of the world’s publicly traded companies is made up of undisclosed value.

“It is time for CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs to start a long overdue reporting revolution.”

—David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance

Brand Finance believes that companies should regularly value each intangible asset, including the key assumptions management made when deriving their value. This information would be extremely useful for managers, investors, and other stakeholders.

A Key Consideration

Investment professionals certainly agree on the importance of intangibles. In a survey of institutional investors by Columbia Threadneedle, it was found that 95% agreed that intangible assets contain crucial information about the future strength of a company’s business model.

Moreover, 98% agree that more transparency would be beneficial to their assessment of intangible assets. In the absence of robust reporting, Columbia Threadneedle believes active managers are well equipped to understand intangible asset values due to their access to management, relationships with key opinion leaders, and deep industry expertise.

By undertaking rigorous analysis, managers may uncover hidden competitive advantages—and generate higher potential returns in the process.

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Economy

Top Countries by GDP and Economic Components (1970-2017)

This animation looks at the top countries in the world by GDP, while also showing the components that comprised economic activity at the time.

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Countries by GDP and Economic Components (1970-2017)

While looking at the top countries by GDP is a useful big picture measure, it can also be informative to look at the components that make up an economy as well.

Examining a country’s economic building blocks can tell us a lot about what stage of development the country is in, and where competitive advantages may exist.

Analyzing GDP by Sector

Today’s “horse race” bar chart, by Number Story, is an entertaining historical look at the ranking of top countries by GDP, including the parts that make up the whole.

Here is the latest data as of 2018, as well as the largest sector according to data from the United Nations’ industry classification database:

RankCountryGDP (2018)Top Sector (% of total)2nd Largest Sector (% of total)
1🇺🇸 United States$20.6TOther (55%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (15%)
2🇨🇳 China$13.6TOther (36%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (33%)
3🇯🇵 Japan$4.9TOther (43%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (23%)
4🇩🇪 Germany$3.6TOther (48%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (25%)
5🇬🇧 UK$2.5TOther (55%)Retail/Restaurant/Hotels (14%)
6🇮🇳 India$2.5TOther (36%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (22%)
7🇫🇷 France$2.5TOther (56%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (13%)
8🇮🇹 Italy$1.9TOther (49%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (20%)
9🇧🇷 Brazil$1.6TOther (50%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (16%)
10🇨🇦 Canada$1.6TOther (52%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (18%)
11🇰🇷 South Korea$1.6TOther (42%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (31%)
12🇷🇺 Russia$1.5TOther (36%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (28%)
13🇦🇺 Australia$1.4TOther (53%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (17%)
14🇪🇸 Spain$1.3TOther (47%)Retail/Restaurant/Hotels (19%)
15🇲🇽 Mexico$1.2TOther (34%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (24%)

Why are “Other Activities” so dominant in this breakdown?

It’s because of the way GDP that components are classified as data in the UN industry classification system, which is laid out below:

  1. Agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing (ISIC A-B)
  2. Mining, manufacturing, utilities (ISIC C-E)
  3. Construction (ISIC F)
  4. Wholesale, retail trade, restaurants and hotels (ISIC G-H)
  5. Transport, storage and communication (ISIC I)
  6. Other activities, such as finance, healthcare, real estate, and tech (ISIC J-P)

Although agriculture, construction, or manufacturing have been a bedrock for economies in the past, developed countries skew towards adding economic value in different ways today.

Given that finance, government spending (healthcare, education, defense, etc.) and technology — all important modern industries — are included in “Other”, this makes the possibly outdated classification the biggest (and least useful) category to examine here.

Nevertheless, there is still information we can glean from this animated breakdown of GDP, spanning a period of almost 50 years.

A More Granular Look at GDP

In the past, we’ve shown you high level visualizations that break down the world’s $86 trillion GDP by country, or even projections on the largest countries by GDP in 2030 in PPP terms.

However, the animated bar chart shows something more granular that is compelling in its own right. By observing the evolution of countries’ economic components over time, some interesting observations emerge that would normally be lost in the big picture.

Japan’s Manufacturing Boom

At points during Japan’s heyday of growth during the 1980’s, manufacturing comprised nearly 30% of economic activity. By the mid-90s, this single segment of Japan’s economy was so valuable that, on its own, it would’ve placed fifth in the global ranking.

America Leading the Pack

While other countries switch positions, reordering as economies boom and bust, the U.S. has handily remained in top position.

Japan was the country that narrowed the gap between the first and second spot the most, though the country’s Lost Decade in the 1990s cut that ascension short.

During the years between 1970 and 2017, the United States was at its most dominant in 2006 when its GDP was triple the size of Japan’s. Of course, in recent years China has narrowed the gap considerably.

A Star Rising in the East

As one would expect, the building blocks of China’s economy looked very different in the 1970s than today.

The communist systems of the USSR and China are both easy to spot in the visualization. Agriculture played an outsized role, and industries like finance, real estate, and retail were understated compared to the profiles of countries that operated under a capitalist system.

In 1980, as the first Special Economic Zones were being created, three-quarters of China’s economy was based on agriculture, resource extraction, and manufacturing. Even as recently as the early ’90s, China wasn’t in the top 10 despite being the world’s most populous country.

Of course, that situation changed drastically over the next two decades. By the dawn of the 21st century, China ranked fifth in the world, and a decade later, China surpassed Japan to become the second largest economy globally.

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