The U.S. film and recorded music industry leads the world with 20,620 companies generating $95.4 billion in revenues in 2010. The industry is comprised of businesses that produce and distribute motion pictures, television programs and commercials along with music and audio recordings. Based on the latest statistics from 2009, roughly 84 percent of industry revenue was generated by the film industry with the remaining 16 percent generated by the music industry.
The film industry consists largely of multinational umbrella corporations, major studios, and independent studios or indies. Many of the leading film companies are part of larger media conglomerates that often include television, newspaper, cable and magazine segments. American musicians drive the recorded music industry in the United States, and the popularity of their music spans the globe.
U.S. exports of film and entertainment media often attain shares in international markets in excess of 90 percent due to high global interest in U.S. filmed entertainment. In fact, the sector enjoyed a trade surplus of $11.9 billion in 2009 (latest data available). The industry offers attractive possibilities for foreign investors both large and small, is open to foreign investment, and provides film production tax incentives. The future of the industry is turning toward digital production and distribution.
Drawing on formidable strengths, the U.S. film industry has a proven ability to produce blockbuster movies that generate hundreds of millions of dollars, including revenues from distribution across strong domestic and international networks. Success in the industry is based on creativity and financing, and the industry is largely self-regulated. The U.S. market has a large talent pool of writers, actors, producers, directors and technical experts, and is home to a variety of film crews, post-production firms, backdrops and infrastructure to support production. U.S. filmmakers also receive strong protections for their intellectual property.
Similarly, every large music company in the world does extensive business in the United States. A presence in the U.S. recorded music industry is essential for a company interested in global operations. The music industry has experienced major changes in the last 20 years that have made foreign investment in the U.S. both easier and more difficult. Key changes include the advent of high-quality, low-cost recording technology and the rise of online music distribution. Future industry growth is likely to be among companies outside the big four worldwide record companies – Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Group.
Film production: This subsector is made up of production and distribution companies. Film distributors acquire distribution rights and distribute film and video productions to theaters, television networks, and cable operators. Total 2009 revenue for this subsector was $58 billion. Film exhibition: Based on 2009 data, film exhibition posted revenue of $13.3 billion. Film post production: This industry subsector is made up of companies that offer services that include editing; film/tape transfers; titling; closed captioning; and computer-produced graphics, animation and special effects, as well as developing and processing motion picture film. Film post production accounted for revenue of approximately $4.8 billion in 2009. Integrated record production/distribution: Businesses in this subsector release, promote and distribute sound recordings and create audio tapes/cassettes and compact discs. These products are then distributed to wholesalers, retailers or directly to the public. Based on 2009 figures, this subsector generated revenue of $8.7 billion in 2009.. Music Publishers: Music publishers acquire and register copyrights for musical compositions in accordance with law and promote and authorize the use of these compositions in recordings, radio, television, motion pictures, live performances, print and other media. The companies in this subsector represent the interests of the songwriter or owner of the musical composition to produce revenues from the use of such works, typically through licensing agreements. Based on 2009 figures, this subsector generated revenue of approximately $4.6 billion in 2009.