Belgian music market returns to normal

After a weak point in 2020, music sales are up 16% in 2021. Streaming accounts for three quarters of revenue and vinyl is making a dramatic comeback.

While the turnover of the Belgian music industry had stagnated (-0.1%) in 2020 due to the lockdowns, its sales (significantly) started to increase again last year. According to Belgian Recorded Music Association (BRMA), turnover reached 90.94 million euros, that is, a 16% jump. It is much better than before the health crisis since in 2019 the market weighed 78.3 million.

In this, the Belgian market is in line with the world market. According to Ifpi, the international federation of the music industry, the sector grew by 18.5% to $25.9 billion.

To explain this uptick, the BRMA points to a series of major releases (let’s think of “95”, Angèle’s latest album, released at the end of 2021), the work and investments of the labels, a relaxation of sanitary measures, etc. And above all, there are two phenomena.

First, streaming, which now accounts for 75% of sales, against 65% worldwide. It grew by 17% to more than 68 million euros. “Many factors contribute to this success: the wide variety of artists, songs and playlists, the ease of use, the accessibility and the various paid music streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, the BRMA report notes. .



Streaming now accounts for 75% of music sales in Belgium.

It is not surprising then that the French Deezer wants to take advantage of this buoyant context to go public. On the contrary, legal downloads fell by 27% and only weighed 2.7 million, that is, three times less than in 2018.

The return of vinyl

then the incredible hardware bounce, whose sales increased by 23% compared to 2020, a year of health crisis when, it is true, the stores were closed. They represent 21.5% of turnover, or 19.6 million euros.

In free fall for several years, the CD has slowed it down with a drop of only 1.5%. The good old vinyl has exploded: +78% to 8.7 million euros! It represents 10% of total sales and more than 44% of sales in physical media, compared to 31% in 2020 and 23% in 2019.

Amazing? Not much. In an almost completely dematerialized sector, vinyl has become a a collector’s item allowing fans to identify with their favorite artists and for them to obtain pleasant sources of income while they play peanuts in streaming: “Vinyl, like a cap or a t-shirt, has become a object of commercializationdecoded rudy leonet, responsible for ‘pop culture’ at RTBF; it helps maintain the collection, releasing some records in various versions and colors, even on double vinyl when it really isn’t justified, but it allows them to be sold more expensively and increase margins.

“Vinyl, like the cap or the t-shirt, has become a merchandising object.”

rudy leonet

Head of “pop culture” at RTBF

In short, the triumph of marketing. The expert notes, however, that the the vinyl never disappeared: “Small labels have always come out, the problem is that with the renewed interest in this medium, the few production factories are now monopolized by the big ones (Sony, Universal and other Warners, editor’s note) to the detriment of these independent labels .”

And then there’s also the nostalgic side that works hard, the authentic side, the “warm” sound that emanates from it while that of digital is cold and metallic, without forgetting the ecological aspect: a vinyl, which can be recycled. In short, the old microgroove invented at the beginning of the last century is rebelled and hi-fi equipment manufacturers relaunch turntable production. Will the next step in this vintage push be the revival of the audio cassette?? According to Rudy Léonet, it is already underway…

The summary

  • Music sales increased by 16% in 2021 in Belgium.
  • In question, among other things: big premieres, the end of sanitary measures, the growth of streaming…
  • Streaming now accounts for 75% of sales, compared to 65% globally.
  • Vinyl is making a dramatic comeback with sales up 78%.

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