Per Reuters, Universal cements music publishing lead:

Two interesting points in this article.

One, UMG has grown their publishing business very substantially.

Universal Music’s publishing division has overtaken EMI as the world’s leading major music publisher, according to market research on Monday.

Music & Copyright (M&C), which is published by Informa said Universal’s market share among major music groups rose to 24 percent in 2007 from 11.9 percent a year earlier.

From 12% to 24% is a huge rise. There’s a lot of thrash in this market — it’s not acting like a mature market.

UMG’s share of the recording industry has also grown in the recent past. These guys are firing on all cylinders, and no doubt emphasizing publishing deliberately to offset shrinkage of the recording market. They used to be a 600 pound gorilla, now they’re a 900 pound gorilla.

Two, the combined publishing and recording industries are no smaller than they were in 1996, around the historic peak of the CD industry:

“According to M&C the value of music publishing has risen in Europe from $3.6 billion in 1996 to $5.2 billion in 2006 while recorded music sales have fallen from $9 billion to 7.5 billion.”

5.2 – 3.6 = +1.6 growth. 9 – 7.5 = -1.5 shrinkage. 1.6 – 1.5 = .1 billion increase.

In other news which does not in any way suggest a pattern:

Due to increased demand for its products, Gibson Guitar plans to increase its general labor and manufacturing workforce by approximately 200 people.

So if you added gains in instrument sales and teaching to the overall picture, wouldn’t you find that the music industry is actually healthier than before the internet? Too bad Guitar Center is now a private company, because it’s the bellweather of the instrument business and now we don’t know their numbers any more. But Best Buy, anyway, is growing it’s instrument business:

Best Buy Co. Inc. is announcing a massive new initiative that sets aside store space for an array of musical instruments and gear in dozens of sites nationwide.