LONDON - Global music revenues grew at the fastest rate in more than two decades last year, with help from artists like BTS, Taylor Swift and Adele.

Revenues surged by 18.5% to $25.9bn (£19.5bn) in 2021, the highest level since records began in the 1990s. The growth was driven by streaming, with 523 million paid subscribers, up from 443 million in 2020.

Streaming now accounts for 65% of total revenues, with CDs, vinyl and cassettes making up 19% and downloads 4%. The remaining 11% comes from a mixture of royalty payments and licensing music to films, TV shows and adverts.

The figures mean the industry has enjoyed a seventh consecutive year of growth, according to trade body the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

“It’s hugely encouraging,” chief executive Frances Moore told the BBC. “We lived through that dire period after 1999 where the industry declined by 40%.

“We didn’t envisage we’d be in a situation this year, where we report on 60 or 70 countries and every single one is in growth.” Although streaming is the engine of the industry’s recovery, revenues were up in every format except digital downloads last year.

Sales of CDs increased for the first time this millennium, and vinyl revenues were up by 51%.

Total streaming - including both paid subscriptions and advertising-supported listening - grew and is now worth $16.9bn (£12.75bn)

But while the figures are good news for record labels, the independent sector warned that profits were not being shared equally.

“It is good to see continued growth across the global music market... but it serves as an important reminder that not everyone is feeling the benefit,” said Paul Pacifico of the Association of Independent Music.

Without “clear support” for up-and-coming musicians, he added, “it will remain very difficult to reconcile the positive numbers in the market as a whole with the hard reality of making a life in music at an individual, human level”.

All of the record labels represented by the IFPI have suspended operations in Russia, the fifth biggest music market in Europe, since the invasion began last month.

Although significant, Russia only accounts for 1.3% of global revenues (about $336m), Moore said, meaning the move would have little impact on the global industry.

“We just want to get back to a situation where people in Russia and Ukraine can enjoy music in a peaceful, non-violent environment,” she added.