Mobile music slides down charts


While digital music subscriptions are set to grow over next five years, mobile music hits a slump

Mobile music is set to plummet in growth over the next five years as ring back tones fail to make up for reduced sales in ringtones.

New forecasts from global analyst firm, Ovum, show growth in digital music across most regions globally, except for North America and Europe where mobile music is expected to decline by 5% to 7% (excluding unlicensed, non-music, and mobile subscriptions) as ring back tones fail to make up for the decline in ringtones.

Mark Little, Ovum's consumer telecoms analyst, explained the drop in mobile music growth in Europe and North America: 'The decline in the growth rate of mobile music from previous forecasts is mainly due to the underperformance of ringback tones, the dominance of free ad-supported music, and data costs that are making over the air (OTA) mobile music less appealing to consumers.'

While mobile music is having a rough ride (particularly in the west), consumers are recognising the benefits of the subscription model, being able to access tens of millions of streamed songs for the price of a CD every month rather than owning individual downloads. Telcos are helping to drive subscription growth with mobile music bundles, leading to significant growth in South and Central America, for example, with over 50% CAGR.

The global digital music market is expected to grow at 15% annually, reaching nearly $22.5 billion by 2017, according to Ovum. Revenue is being boosted by subscription services, predicted to show a strong compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46%, much of it on the back of bundling partnerships with service providers.

Little added: 'In Asia Pacific, growth created by consumers migrating to subscription services such as Lismo Unlimited from KKBOX in Japan will result in a regional CAGR of 44%. With Spotify landing in the US, joining Rhapsody, Sony Music Unlimited, Rdio and MOG, such brands are helping reinvigorate on-demand subscriptions, and we estimate a 40% CAGR over the forecast period.'Little concluded: 'We expect the main driver of digital music in the forecast period to be subscriptions, because it is a format that can be easily bundled by service providers, as well as offered directly, resulting in increased penetration of subscriptions around the world.'


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