Belgian music sales skyrocket to highest level in years

Belgian music sales skyrocket to highest level in years
Credit: Ugo Realfonzo / The Brussels Times

After a tumultuous period due to the pandemic, music sales in Belgium reached the highest level in years in 2021, mostly driven by streaming, but also as a result of the revival of vinyl and record shops.

In 2021, the Belgian music industry's turnover was almost €91 million – up by 16% from 2020 while also beating the figures for 2019, according to figures from the Belgian Recorded Music Association (BRMA), the federation that represents music distributors and producers.

Since 2017, the number of digital music sales has increased from under 50% to as high as 78% in 2021.

"More and more music lovers and fans are finding their way to their favourite artists and the immense offer of music because the music industry succeeded years ago in bringing together its entire all music offerings into one streaming service," Patrick Guns, Chair of BRMA, said.

Streaming, particularly on well-known platforms such as Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music and YouTube Music, has further increased in popularity. With a share of 75% of music sales in Belgium, it is the main driver of sales growth.

Vinyl driving non-digital sales

Non-digital music sales have increased for the first time in years, rising by almost a quarter (23%) compared to the pandemic-driven year 2020, reaching a total of € 19.59 million, or 21.5% of total market sales.

While the sale of CDs has decreased dramatically in recent years – in 2018, the sale of CDs raked in €22 million, while this was just €9.4 million in 2021 – vinyl has risen in popularity, with sales increasing by 78% in one year to €8.69 million.

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In 2019, CDs still accounted for 68% while, vinyl records accounted for just 23%, but two years later, records caught up, accounting for 44.4%, while CDs now account for 48% of all physical music sales.

Saturday 23 April, World Record Store Day, is designed to further encourage music fans to support independent record stores. The tradition was first started in 2008 by independent record store owners and employees to honour their "unique culture." 

This year, musicians including the Rolling Stones and Foo Fighters celebrated the day by releasing new music and debuting them exclusively at independent record stores.

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