@RobertBLevine_: Is the Record Business Really Back? How Streaming Is (And Isn’t) Turning a Profit

For the last few years, Barclays’ annual research reports about the music industry reflected the challenges of a business in ­transition — or, more specifically, one that had slowed a rapid decline but had not returned to growth. In 2014, as track sales fell, the bank’s report declared that “Streaming Killed the Download Star”; the 2015 edition was titled “Swimming Upstream.” But the bank’s ­latest research report, published in October and titled “Dancing Days Are Here Again,” starts with much better news: “2016 is the year recorded music appears to be ­turning a corner.”

However, it’s not time to pop the bubbly just yet. As ­streaming grows, sales of downloads and CDs are ­plunging — by 22.1 ­percent and 12.7 percent, ­respectively, in the first nine months of 2016, according to Nielsen Music — and it still remains to be seen just how many casual fans will pony up for ­subscriptions when music is available for free on YouTube and Spotify’s ad-supported tier. While streaming has been great for the major labels, its economics are rarely as ­rewarding for songwriters, ­publishers and even some labels and artists. And so far, none of the companies in the streaming ­business are making money.

In other words, if this is a ­turnaround, then it’s a fragile one. “We’re in recovery,” says Michael Nash, Universal Music Group ­executive vp digital strategy. “It’s one day at a time.”

Read the post on Billboard.