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Spain’s Pandemic Year: Modest Growth, Lost Revenue and the Rise of Latin Acts

Fueled by streaming, Spain saw revenues of recorded music grow by a modest 4.4% in 2020, far less than the growth spurt of recent years would have suggested. But fallout from the pandemic — along with the stringent lockdown that Spain had in place for months — resulted in lost revenue from physical sales, from a projected 73 million euros to 55.2 million, and performance rights collection that amounted to some 50 million euros.

The results stalled an upward trajectory that would have placed Spain’s total recorded revenues at above the 400 million euros for the first time since 2006.

For the first six months of the year, however, things are looking brighter, with the market reporting 22% revenue growth equal to nearly 170 million euros (not including sync and intellectual property revenue), according to a new report published by Promusicae, the country’s recording industry association. This, despite the fact that Spain’s per capita music-derived income still falls below most of its neighboring European countries.

Also, in a twist, the growth in streaming has benefitted Latin acts and releases (with the term “Latin” applied to artists and music coming from Latin America and the U.S. Latin market) more than it has Spanish artists. According to the report, while Spaniards prefer to consume music in Spanish over other languages by a big margin (more than 80%), nearly 60% of streamed songs in 2020 were “Latin” compared to just 25% from Spain, an “unusually small quota for a country of this size,” says the report. Likewise, 57% of streamed artists were “Latin” versus 29% from Spain.

In terms of album streams, the numbers were very similar.

Comparatively, the quota of local artists in France is 83% and 77% in Italy, where there are multiple stimuli to promote local artists and repertoire.

“Sharing a language with most of Latin America gives Spain a fundamental advantage,” reads the report, noting that Spain — like the U.S. and the U.K. — has the potential to become a prime exporter of music. “But that potential could turn against us given the large degree of competition coming from other Spanish-speaking countries. Facing this threat, a stimuli program similar to that in Italy could help the Spanish industry recover certain leadership.”

Here are other key stats from the report:

Music revenues in Spain grew 4.4% in 2020, with most of that coming from streaming. Physical sales dropped 24.5%, intellectual property rights declined 27.6% and other digital revenues declined 20.7%.
Streaming accounted for more than 70% of revenue, up from 59.5% in 2019.
According to consulting firm GfK, in 2020, Spain recorded over 50,000 million streams for the first time.
Music sales (not streams) have risen by 22% in the first six months of 2021, compared to the first six months of 2020, coinciding with the harshest lock-down month. Over 40% of sales were physical. However, that number doesn’t come close to previous physical sales, which were affected by the shutdown of retail during the pandemic.
Sales of vinyl rose slightly, but still represent only 5.2% of total revenues, half of what CDs comprise.
Video streaming grew 38% for the first six months of 2021.
The top album of 2020 in Spain was Bad Bunny’s YHLQMDLG and the top song was Karol G and Nicky Minaj’s “Tusa.” Bad Bunny is Puerto Rican and Karol G is Colombian.

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