There was a point in the past decade when it seemed as if technology, largely by way of illegal peer-to-peer downloading, was going to ruin the music industry.

But recent numbers show otherwise. According to the industry trade group IFPI, global music sales rose 0.3 percent last year to $16.5 billion for the first time since 1999.

Sure, that’s quite less than the $38 billion the music industry was raking in a decade ago. Yet those involved in music have to be feeling a little better.

IFPI reported that the growth can largely be credited to new subscription-based streaming services that have popped up recently like Spotify and Seattle-based Rhapsody. Digital sales represented about a third of the $16.5 billion and grew nine percent from 2011, when digital sales surpassed physical music sales for the first time.

“It is hard to remember a year for the recording industry that has begun with such a palpable buzz in the air,” IFPI CEO Frances Moore said in the report. “These are hard-won successes for an industry that has innovated, battled and transformed itself over a decade. They show how the music industry has adapted to the internet world, learned how to meet the needs of consumers and monetised the digital marketplace.”

IFPI also reported that there is still the issue of unlicensed music services and how governments need to address the problem.

“The key priority remains to secure effective cooperation from intermediaries including advertisers, ISPs and search engines, who have a major influence on levels of copyright infringement,” the report reads.

Illegally downloading music appears to be declining. The latest figures from NPD show that the number people using P2P services to download music declined 17 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Previously on GeekWire: Spotify competitor: Google reportedly developing subscription music service

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  • guest

    Yeah, nice to see some options emerge after Apple basically killed the industry a decade ago, transferred the profits to itself, and has used its ITunes monopoly to rule with a heavy hand ever since.

  • David Blade III

    They don’t consider “stream catcher” tools that record streams to mp3s.

  • GG002

    Hah, in your face, RIAA, SOPA, PIPA, etc.

  • Andrew Kinzer

    Curious to see what will happen with the copyright “protecting” ISP monitoring will do… Comcast rolled that out yesterday, ya?

  • Janet Green

    It’s all gonna go toward free services though…I mean, that’s been the general trajectory. Because, realistically, if the ability to easily pirate is there (and it is!), then the only real way to combat it is to offer the same thing, which means the content for free. It’s not my job to figure out how that’s best done. I specifically use torch music, and the free pandora subscription cause they’re ad supported, and I don’t have to pay. There isn’t any point in having an ethics conversation over any of it, it’s just the way it is, and this should be very strongly factored into future models for streaming services.

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