The Performing Rights Society announced today that the rise in revenue from downloaded music outweighed the fall in traditional CD media for the first time.
PRS for Music - which collects cash on behalf of 65,000 UK musicians, songwriters and publishers throughout the world - announced a 2.6 per cent rise in annual income to £623 million.
The organisation, which has been embroiled in some pretty heavy-handed anti-downloading measures in the past, wouldn't go so far as to admit that the scourge of piracy was no longer leaving its members living on the breadline, however.
"In a tough trading year for all of us I’m pleased we were able to deliver a small increase in royalty revenues, allowing the nation’s music creators to keep creating music that is heard and appreciated around the world," said Robert Ashcroft, chief executive of PRS for Music. "This growth reflects in particular our increased efforts to license those benefiting from the use of British music overseas, our continued pursuit of legitimate alternatives to online piracy and, as always, the creative talent of our authors, composers and publishers.
"2009 was the first year in which the growth in revenues from the legal digital market compensated for the decline in revenues from traditional CDs and DVDs, though we remain cautious as to whether this represents a true turning point. The next decade does however promise further growth in earnings from the legal digital market as well as the use of British music overseas."
The rise of services like music marketing tool iTunes and advertising-sponsored streaming portals like Spotify have given consumers more choice and better value, much to the chagrin of music industry moguls who fought tooth and nail to maintain the cash cow status quo.
Perhaps now they'll realise that people are more than happy to pay for music if they can get it when and how they want it.