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Global music markets focus – Belgium

Despite slower growth than similarly sized countries, currently music streaming continues to grow in Belgium at a rapid rate. Almost doubling in just three years. In this article, we look at streaming in this market and the Belgian music industry.

Music revenues are high in Belgium – with high music sales and globally recognised festivals. In the most recent CISAC Collections Report, music collections amounted to €108 billion for 2018, the 16th largest worldwide (CISAC, 2019). Collections organisation SABAM is a member of CISAC.

In 2019 BEA, a Belgian entertainment collections agency reported overall revenue of €78.32 million for music sales, an 8% growth on the previous year (BEA, 2020).

Despite slower growth and a strong physical format music market, music streaming is now gaining a significant foothold in the thriving Belgian music industry. Streaming adoption has not been as fast as other neighbouring European countries. In a 2016 country report by Music Ally, Michel Van Buyten the Co-Manager of Sony Music Benelux shared that is may be due to a lack of “focus on the Belgian territory by streaming services themselves” such as limited marketing or no regional presence (MusicAlly, 2016). However, streaming has grown exponentially in the past three years. In most recent numbers by BEA, streaming accounted for 60% of total music revenues in 2019, up from a 49% share in 2018 and a 35% share in 2017. BEA attributed this growth in streaming to its wide range of music, usability, accessibility and the greater focus that streaming and music companies have placed on this valuable market (BEA, 2020). The Belgians are evidently making a switch to streaming from physical, which still remains popular in the market. As recently as 2017 sales of CDs, Vinyl and DVDs accounted for 52% of music sales. Now it accounts for just under a third.

Another reason for digital streaming’s growth may be the popularity of mobile phones. Deloitte Belgium’s most recent Mobile Consumer Survey for 2019 shared that there is a mobile penetration rate of 88%. To look at mobile usage, the respondents shared that 11% of them streamed music on their mobile at least once per day. However, there is a large growth area as 55% report never streaming or playing music via their mobile devices (Deloitte Belgium, 2019).

Looking at Belgian peoples’ choice of streaming subscription, the 2019 Deloitte Belgium report shared that 27% of those surveyed, ranging from 18-75, had a music streaming subscription. Of this number, 23% accessed their music on their smartphone. They made a further breakdown by platforms. Of those with music subscriptions, Spotify was the leader at 19%. This was the leading provider by a large margin with Apple Music at 4%, Amazon Prime/Music accounting for 3% and Google Music at 3% (Deloitte Belgium, 2019).

Andrea Piacquadio From Pexels1
Andrea Piacquadio From Pexels1

As shared by BEA, greater access to more music could be a contributing factor to streaming’s growth. In this market, both international and local music is popular. Organisations promote and support local artists. While international acts like Lewis Capaldi, Arashi and Taylor Swift achieve chart success, so too do local artists such as Angèle.  Ranking very high on the charts, she was awarded the Ultratop award for Most Streamed Belgian Artist. The Managing Director of Ultratop, the organisation compiling charts across music distribution, Sam Jaspers stated that “Angèle was constantly present in the Ultratop charts in 2019. In Flanders she scored 4 top 20 hits and her album ‘Brol’ stayed in the top 20 for almost a whole year” (BEA, 2020). As current restrictions have resulted in many music events have been cancelled, there is a campaign to support local artists’ music across radio, physical sales and streaming. The #Playlocal campaign has a series of ‘Made in Belgium’ playlists and social media campaigns (BEA, 2020).

On the international scene, Belgian festivals are very popular with one of the world’s most popular festivals Tomorrowland taking place in Boom, Belgium. The festival which attracts over 350,000 attendees each year from over 200 countries is one of the premier electronic dance festivals in the world. This year the Belgian festival has gone online and there will be tickets sold to the online version Tomorrowland Around The World. This will be a unique digital music experience sharing how live music and streaming are coming together at this time.

There is sure to be continued growth in this industry, specifically in music streaming. Statistica reports that the music streaming market will reach €76.6 million by 2024 (Statistica, 2020). There is a lot of room for growth in this exciting market.

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