International music body IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) has published its annual Digital Music Report 2012 and the trends do call for optimism. In 2011 global revenues from digital music grew a spectacular 8 % to US$ 5.2 billion, major international music services like iTunes, Spotify and Deezer were able to achieve rapid expansion of their services which are now available in 58 countries up from 23 at the start of the year and anti-piracy actions have made a significant impact in countries like France and New Zealand which the US is also expected to carry forward forcefully in 2012. The number of consumers subscribing to paid music services leapt 65 per cent in 2011 to 13.4 million worldwide, according to IFPI estimates. Meanwhile cloud technology is transforming the way in which consumers store, access and listen to music.
However digital piracy remains a problem and about 28 % of internet users continue to download music from illegal P2P sites. It is imperative that graduated response, site blocking and others measures which have given positive results be persisted with to keep up the pressure on pirates globally. In France Hadopi’s graduated response measure has resulted in a 26 % decline in illegal downloads and a sharp rise in iTunes sales figures could be directly attributed to this. Elsewhere in Europe legal action against major infringing sites like Pirate Bay have significantly reduced infringing activity. In Belgium and Italy users visits to infringing sites have reduced by as much as 70-80 %. Dramatic reduction in illegal music downloading has been achieved in New Zealand and South Korea. In India IMI has recently initiated action against 103 infringing sites through court orders. IMI has been leading the way in actively pursuing people and organisations involved with music piracy in India through government agencies and judicial courts.
While things are certainly looking up as far as digital music is concerned physical sales continue to spiral downwards. Its hardly surprising then that there has news doing the rounds on the net recently that the CD format would be abandoned by all the major music companies by the end of 2012. Come to think of it this may be inevitable in the future but according to the news limited editions of music CDs will continue to be available from quite some time.
The music festival season is here and they seem to getting bigger and bigger each passing year. Going by the huge success of festivals like Baaja Gaaja, Mahindra Blues Festival, SulaFest and Storm times are rocking for music fans and musicians alike. Bands too are getting better and more confident and they are doing a lot of original music unlike earlier. In the meantime lets keep our fingers crossed that things get even better in the coming years.
It was with great dismay that we received the news of the tragic demise of Whitney Houston in her hotel room on the eve of the Grammy Awards ceremony. Yet again we are faced with the reality of excess in the short lived field of entertainment music included. With her passing we have lost one of pop music’s greatest voices. Though the cause of death has not yet been ascertained the singer’s problems with drugs and alcohol were well known. One can only imagine the demands on a person who is in the limelight but unable to cope for reasons best known to themselves. We will always remember her and may her soul rest in peace.