Why Chile is one of Latin America’s most vibrant digital music industries?

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Musically recently published this report about the Chilean music market. Chile’s recorded music Market gained its 11th straight year of growth in 2020, according to local Music Ally sources, helping to cement its place as one of Latin America’s most vibrant digital music industries. While Chile took to streaming relatively late, this industry is performing well with a 56.2% income growth in 2020. The leading digital music services in Chile are Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube Music. But March 2021 saw the launch of a new competitor called PortalDisc, the first 100% Chilean music streaming service.

Recorded Music Market overview in Chile

Latin America was, once again, the fastest growing region for recorded music globally in 2020, according to the IFPI, with revenue up 15.9%. Streaming revenues in the region grew by 30.2% last year, accounting for 84.1% of the region’s total revenues. Chile is perhaps not as well known for its local artists as countries like Brazil or Colombia - Javiera Mena and Gepe may be the biggest Chilean artists internationally of recent years - but it punches above its weight in terms of music revenue. Chile is the seventh most populous country in Latin American, with 18.4m inhabitants, but the region’s fourth biggest recorded music market, after Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.

Overall recorded music revenue in Chile grew by around 5% last year, according to local Music Ally sources, to $56.6m, only slightly behind Argentina’s total. Francisco Nieto, managing director of IFPI Chile, says that this was thanks to consolidation in changing music consumption habits. “Portability is what the public wants and our market is practically 86% streaming,” he explains.

Streaming trends in Chile

Nieto says that streaming income growth in 2020 was 56.2%, down from 76.2% in 2019. “This means that growth was less than before, but without a doubt the pandemic and quarantine kept music consumption current,” he explains. “People got tired of watching the alarmist news on TV.” Nieto explains that - alongside this decrease in the growth of streaming - there was a large fall in performance rights income, which was down by 45% compared to 2019, which helps to explain why Chile’s overall growth in recorded music income slowed in 2020.

It should, perhaps, be no great surprise that streaming is performing so well in Chile: the country is renowned for having the most advanced telecommunications infrastructure in South America and one of the highest broadband speeds. And yet Chile took to streaming relatively late. Deezer launched in Chile in 2012 but it wasn’t until Spotify arrived the following year that streaming started to take off in earnest.

Even today, ad-supported streaming - rather than subscription - is driving the Chilean streaming market. Revenue from ad-supported streaming in Chile grew by more than 55% in Chile last year, compared to a 14% growth in subscription streaming revenues.

Portal Disc, new Chilean streaming app

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Nieto says that the leading digital music services in Chile are Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube Music. But March 2021 saw the launch of an interesting new competitor in the form of PortalDisc’s new streaming app, which is dedicated to Chilean music. The app, which uses Tuned Global’s music streaming technology, aims to offer “a fully localised experience; which Tuned Global achieved by using custom metadata to divide the content into regions and Chilean music genres”.

In total, the platform has more than 130,000 Chilean songs from 300 national labels and more than 7,000 independent artists, a legacy of PortalDisc’s long experience as the largest music download platform in Chile.

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“We offer a hyper-localised and hyper- targeted music streaming service for  Chilean music lovers and local artists, which a mass international streaming service can’t do,” Sebastian Milos, founder and director of PortalDisc.

“There is a lot of Chilean music that for various reasons is not present in the international streaming services,” Milos adds. “The great contribution of PortalDisc these 12 years [in which it has operated a download service] has been to search, rescue, digitise and classify a lot of old music and, at the same time, to welcome new artists.”

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 "This type of local music streaming service complements, rather than competes with, more mainstream streaming services," Con Raso, managing director of Tuned Global

As such, it should help to grow the overall streaming market in Chile. Local music makes up around 21% of total consumption in Chile, according to Nieto, a fairly low figure. But it could be argued that this is thanks to a lack of availability, rather than demand.

What’s the future of Chile’s recorded music industry?

There are, then, a number of reasons to be optimistic for Chile’s recorded music income in the near future. “I expect that the streaming market will continue to grow in the country as a whole and specifically in Chilean music,” Nieto concludes, “because producers, performers, show producers, technicians and collective management entities of intellectual rights are working together to generate financing with government institutions and protocols for the re-start of live music. That will happen with local artists in the beginning. At the same time, local multinationals have also invested in local talent.”

Milos says that the music industry in Chile is “very active”, painting a picture of a vibrant local business. “There are more than 300 labels created in Chile, thousands of independent artists, various associations of companies and musicians, a very relevant union called IMICHILE that brings together more than 50 companies from the independent music sector, public and private institutions that have been supporting various initiatives to support the industry, an active participation of Chilean delegations in international fairs and the organisation of various international music fairs and meetings in Chile, including Pulsar, Imesur and Fluvial,” he says.

“At the same time, there are more than 1,000 Chilean radio stations, many web portals specialised in music and hundreds of live concerts every week while they were taking place.”

Weighed against this, though, is the impact of the pandemic. Alongside Israel, Chile has been leading the world in the roll out of COVID-19 vaccination and the country’s economy is expected to grow by 3.1% in 2021, after a contraction of 4.3% in 2020. But Milos says the pandemic has “made social inequality even more evident in Chile, where the poorest sectors have neither the equipment nor the adequate connectivity to work or study online”, while simultaneously putting the brakes on a music industry that was performing very well.

This report was published by Musically.com

Credit: Photo by Juan Manuel Núñez Méndez

Category: Music consumption habits

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