U.S. Music Publishing Grows Nearly 10% To Over $4B In 2020

Despite a challenging year for performance royalties and licensing setbacks, U.S. music publishing revenues continued their climb in 2020.
June 10, 2021

The National Music Publisher's Association reported a 9.6% increase in member revenue in 2020, to $4.076 billion, up from $3.72 billion in 2019.

President and CEO David Israelite used the milestone to highlight the resiliency of the music business even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"That speaks to the strength of not only the diversification of our income streams, but also because of how songs perform even in a bad economy."

However as Billboard notes, the overall growth rate slowed compared to 2019 over 2018, when total revenue increased 12.7%.

Publishing revenues are generated by various types of royalties, including sales/streaming (mechanical), radio and webcasting (public performance), and TV/Film licensing (Sync). Each were affected differently by the pandemic.

The biggest impact was on public performance royalties, which were affected by shutdowns of restaurants, bars, and most live music venues. While overall public performance royalties increased 7.92% to $2.1 billion, from $1.945 billion in 2019, that's down from the 8.1% growh the prior year.

Meanwhile, Sync grew 13% to $954 million, which is less than the 22.7% growth from the year prior and at least partially a result of stalled TV/Film and other big-budget projects. But Mechanical, which is primarily gained from streaming music, grew a whopping 19.5% to $823.5 million, notable above the 17.6% growth in 2019.

Here's how each contributed to the overall $4 billion pie: 

- Performance 51.5%

- Sync 23.4%

- Mechanical 20.2%

- Other 4.9%

Here's the last six years of U.S. music publishing revenues as reported by the NMPA.

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