Music Business Research 2018 – in retrospective

Dear all,

The music business highlight of 2018 was Spotify’s IPO on April 3rd. The public listing of the music streaming service at the New York Stock Exchange was warmly welcomed by the investors with a price per share of US $166 and a market capitalization of US $26.5bn.[1] In the following Spotify’s stock price reached an all-time high of US $196.3 at the end of July – giving it a market capitalization of US $35.3bn. In the meantime, however, Spotify’s stock price lost more than 40 percent and currently the company is worth US $20.6bn.[2] This can only partly be explained by a bearish stock market in the second half of 2018, since the S&P 500 stock exchange index lost just 11.7 percent in the same period. It seems that investors have doubts about Spotify’s business model. The business analysis highlights increasing losses despite a sharply rising number of monthly active users – currently 83m premium subscribers and 109m ad-supported monthly active users.[3] However, the music industry major companies (except Universal Music Group) and the indie label licencing agency MERLIN sold their stakes in Spotify shortly after its IPO at a profit. The recorded music majors are the main beneficiaries of the booming music streaming market, which has grown by 41.1 percent to globally US $6.6bn in 2017.[4]. In-depth analyses of the Universal’s as well as Warner’s business performance highlight that the major companies as well as larger indie labels have increasing revenues and profits due to music streaming.

Beyond Spotify and the booming music streaming, I also want to point at the following music business related topics in 2018:

  • Vivendi’s plans to sell at least 50 percent of Universal Music Group to Liberty Media (owner Sirius XM Radio Inc.), which also bought a controlling stake in US music streaming service Pandora in 2018,
  • the announcement by Chinese Tencent Holdings of an IPO of its Tencent Music Entertainment Group at the New York Stock Exchange,
  • the enactment of the US Music Modernization Act
  • and the fight over Article 13 of the pending EU Copyright Directive.


In 2018 also the 9th Vienna Music Business Research Days on “Music Life is Live” were held at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna from September 12-14 highlighting the growing economic relevance of the music festival and concert business. In her introductory keynote Beate Flath of the University of Paderborn analysed the economic relevance of music festivals for rural regions and small cities in Germany and then conducted a panel discussion on the “The Political Economics of Music Festivals” with Alex Ballreich (LiveKomm, Hamburg), Martin Cloonan (University of Turku), Detlef Schwarte (Reeperbahn Festival Hamburg), Peter Smidt (Eurosonic Noorderslag Festival, Groningen) and Carsten Winter (Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media).

Erik Hitters, professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, tied in with his keynote on “Live Music Ecologies and Value Creation for Musicians, Industries and Cities” highlighting preliminary results of the Poplive-project on the Dutch live music ecology.

The afternoon sessions were devoted to the international concert and touring business. The first keynote speaker, Berthold Seliger talked about “Empire Business or Cultural Diversity. About the Reality of the Concert Business” by telling the story how Live Nation and the German CTS Eventim emerged and have become oligopolistic and powerful players in the international concert promotion and ticketing business. In the following, Princeton University Professor Alan Krueger held a keynote on “The Economics of the International Live Music Business”. He highlighted that the live music market has become the most important revenue source for musicians in the digitized music economy. In the final panel discussion moderated by Berthold Seliger, Jake Beaumont-Nesbitt (International Music Managers Forum, London, UK), Ernst L. Hartz (E. L. Hartz Promotion Bonn, Germany) Harry Jenner (Frequency Festival, Austria) and Peter Jenner (Sincere Management, London, UK) highlighted the change of the “The International Concert and Touring Business” from a music driven and very fragmented promotions business to a money driven and oligopolistic business.

The conference was closed with awarding the best paper of the Young Scholars’ Workshop, which took place on the first conference day. An international jury voted for the paper entitled “Networking Data. A Multimethod Examination of Network Perspective for Artist Management” by Silvia Donker Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands, which will be published in the International Journal of Music Business Research (IJMBR).

In 2018, two further issues of the IJMBR have been published:

Volume 7, no 2, October 2018

Editorial by Peter Tschmuck, pp. 4-5

Marie Connolly & Alan B. Krueger: The secondary market for concert tickets: theory and evidence, pp. 6-51

Sarita M. Stewart: The development of the artist-fan engagement model, pp. 52-82

Wolfgang Senges: Blockchain in the music business: preventing the threat of disruption, pp. 83-106

Volume 7, no 1, April 2018

Editorial by Dennis Collopy, pp. 4-5

Rasmus Rex Pedersen: Exploring bounty and spread: key changes in the Danish music streaming economy, pp. 6-25

Opal Gough: Blockchain: A new opportunity for record labels, pp. 26-44

Abner Pérez Marín: Compulsory licensing in Ecuador’s music industry: a daring strategy within the new intellectual property law in order to regulate music piracy, pp. 45-71

Book review by Daniel Nordgård: Digital Music Distribution: The sociology of online music streams by Hendrik Storstein Spilker, pp. 72-74


The International Music Business Research Association (IMBRA) held its third general assembly within the 9th Vienna Music Business Research Days deciding to enlarge the scientific community of music business research and to foster international collaboration with related associations such as MIRA, ACEI, AIMAC and IASPM. The IMBRA is also editor of the International Journal of Music Business Research (IJMBR) and a music business research book series with Springer International. The first volume of the series is Daniel Nordgård’s book The Music Business and Digital Impacts. Innovations and Disruptions in the Music Industries, All researchers interested in joining IMBRA in 2019, please check here: http://imbra.eu/


The next general assembly of the IMBRA will be held in the course of the 10th Vienna Music Business Research Days on the “Future of Music Business” at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. The call-for-papers for the Young Scholars’ Workshop on September 11, 2019 as well as the Conference Track Day on September 12, 2019 will be published soon.


The following studies, reports, articles and working papers with a music business/industry focus were published in 2018:

De Beukelaer, Christiaan. & Andrew J. Eisenberg, “Mobilising African music: how mobile telecommunications and technology firms are transforming African music sectors”, Journal of African Cultural Studies, https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2018.1546569.

Dunbar, Craig G., Stephen R. Foerster & Ken Mark, “Spotify’s Direct-Listing IPO”, Ivey Publishing, Ivey Business School Foundation (April 11, 2018).

Gamble, Jordan R., How User-centric Innovation is Affecting Stakeholder Marketing Strategies: Exploratory Findings from the Music Industry, working paper.

Gómez-Vega, Mafalda & Luis César Herrero-Prieto, ” Measuring emotion through quality: evaluating the musical repertoires of Spanish symphony orchestras”, Journal of Cultural Economics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10824-018-9337-1.

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Global Music Report 2018, short version, London: IFPI.

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Music Consumer Insight Report, London: IFPI.

IPSOS, Targeting millennials using music streaming apps, London: IPSOS.

Parc, Jimmyn, “Between Technological Advancement and Protectionism: The Bumpy Evolution from MP3 Players to Smartphones in Korea”, Kritika Kultura 32 (2018): pp.6-31.

Peng, Fei, Lili Kang, Sajid Anwar & Xue Li, “Star power and box office revenues: evidence from China”, Journal of Cultural Economics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10824-018-9338-0.

Takara, Yuki, “Do cultural differences affect the trade of cultural goods? A study in trade of music”, Journal of Cultural Economics, 42(3), pp. 393-417.

UK Music, Measuring Music 2018 Report. London: UK for Music.


Music business/industry books published in 2018:

Allan, Paul, Artist Management for the Music Business, 4th edition, New York: Routledge.

Brabec, Jeff & Todd Brabec, Music Money and Success: The Insider’s Guide to Making Money in the Music Business, 8th edition, New York: Schirmer Trade Books.

Gesellschaft für Musikwirtschafts- und Musikkulturforschung (ed.), Big Data und Musik. Jahrbuch für Musikwirtschafts- und Musikkulturforschung, Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Lieb, Kristin J., Gender, Branding, and the Modern Music Industry, 2nd edition, New York: Routledge.

Moser, Rolf, Andreas Scheuermann & Florian Drücke (eds.), Handbuch der Musikwirtschaft, 7 edition, München: C.H. Beck.

Nordgård, Daniel, The Music Business and Digital Impacts. Innovations and Disruptions in the Music Industries, Heidelberg etc.: Springer.

Schwetter, Holger, Hendrik Neubauer & Dennis Mathei (eds.), Die Produktivität von Musikkulturen, Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Tschmuck, Peter, Beate Flath und Martin Lücke (eds.), Musikwirtschaftsforschung. Die Grundlagen einer neuen Disziplin, Wiesbaden: Springer VS.


Finally, I would like to thank 54.863 visitors of the blog for 30.863 visits in 2018 – 150 visits per day. Most of the visitors came from the US, UK, Germany, Austria, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands and India. Traffic, however, comes from almost all countries except a few countries in Africa and North Korea.

The top-10 most visited blog entries in 2018:

  1. The US recorded music market in a long-term perspective, 1990-2016 with 5.912 visits
  2. The economics of music streaming: Spotify with 2.737 visits
  3. The recorded music market in the US, 2000-2014 with 2.057 visits
  4. The recession in the music industry – a cause analysis with 1.890 visits
  5. The global music publishing market – an analysis with 1.769 visits
  6. The fate of the CD – an international CD-market analysis with 1.562 visits
  7. The recorded music market in the US, 2000-2013 with 1.475 visits
  8. The UK Recorded Music Market in a Long-Term Perspective, 1975-2016 with 1.425 visits
  9. Money from music – a study on musicians’ revenue in the U.S. with 895 visits
  10. Spotify goes public – an economic background analysis with 893 visits


To sum up, all articles and sites on the blog has been visited more than 450,000 times since March 2010 when I started this blog – thank you for your interest! Please come back all in 2019 to read e.g. about 10th Vienna Music Business Research Days on the “Future of the Music Business” that will be held at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna from September 11-13, 2019. The eighth volume of the International Journal of Music Business Research will be published issues in April and October 2019. And of course you will find new blog entries on music business/industry topics, book reviews, conference announcements and updates of the several databases.

See you again and I wish all the best for 2019,




[1] Music Business Worldwide, “Spotify valued at $30bn as it begins trading on New York Stock Exchange”, April 3, 2018 (accessed 29.12.2018).

[2] See https://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/spot (accessed 29.12.2018).

[3] Forbes, “Spotify’s Q3 Results Confirm What We Already Know About The Streaming Service’s Future”, November 1, 2018 (accessed 29.12.2018).

[4] IFPI, “Global Music Report 2018”, p.6 (accessed 29.12.2018)





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December 2018



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