Largest Music Industries in the World

The music industry has evolved and changed a lot over the years.
The music industry has evolved and changed a lot over the years.

Just like the film industry, the music industry contributes significantly to the growth of the economy by generating billions of dollars in revenue. Developed economies top the list of the countries with the largest music industries with the United States being the global leader. This article discusses the largest music industries in the world.

Largest Music Industries in the World

United States

The United States music industry generates billions of dollars every year and is home to many of the world's most renowned musicians. According to IFPI Global Music Report 2016, the industry generated $4.898 billion in 2015 and was ranked the largest music industry in the world. The Recording Industry Association of America states that the industry grew by 11.4% in 2016 reaching $7.7 billion. Growth in the music industry is due to increased consumption of digital music, particularly online streaming. The industry is characterized by live concerts, studio recordings, and a variety of music genres.


The music industry in Japan generated $2.628 billion in 2015 and was ranked second behind the US. For over a decade, the industry has witnessed growth catapulted by strict anti-piracy laws and punitive punishment for illegal downloads. The Japanese society is also conservative with more people preferring the use of compact disks and vinyl’s over digital music services such as streaming. The per capita consumption of music is also higher than the US with a music album costing approximately $30 compared to $16-18 in the US. Japan has the largest number of music stores in the world totaling approximately 6000 with 75% of the music sold in compact disks and vinyl.


Germany ranked third in the global music industry with total revenue of 1.405B in 2015. The industry is a blend of digital music and the physical sector with the latter accounting for 70% of the market sales. Unlike its European counterparts, Germany has witnessed a slow transition from contemporary music to digital music which accounted for less than 25%. The younger generation is attracted to digital music while the average age for those buying physical music is 46. The rise of Berlin as a music center has aided the growth of the industry and propelled it to surpass the UK.

United Kingdom

The music industry in the UK generated $1.335B in 2015, slightly lower than Germany. According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), British music commanded 17.1% of the global market in 2016, indicating that one in every six music albums sold worldwide was British. The industry witnessed an increase in streaming and digital music consumed by youth people with the service recording 26.6 billion streams. The rise in sales of individual albums such as Adele's '24' and Ed Sheeran’s 'X' also propelled the industry’s performance.

The global music industry

The total revenue for recorded music in 2015 totaled $15 billion, marking a 3.2% rise from 2014 and the first significant growth in eight years. The industry has witnessed an increase in digital music, mainly streaming services which accounted for half the revenue. According to FPI's Global Music Report 2016, digital music rose by 10% to $6.7 billion.

Largest Music Industries in the World

RankCountryValue (US, Millions)
1United States4,898
4United Kingdom1,335
8South Korea266

More in Society