The evolution of products in entertainment industry

Andrzej Buda, Andrzej  Jarynowski, Vitaly Belik, Katarzyna Kuzmicz

We analyze temporal dynamics of entertainment industry including literature, music, films and video games. We focus on music and extend our research to other parts of entertainment industry under the influence of technological revolutions, introducing possible analogies between them. Music industry analysis is based on subsequent albums sales time series by artists from statistical point of view, including networks of artists, record labels and producers. The statistical properties of the entertainment industry (including value of the markets, seasonality, products life-cycles) and possible interferences between different parts of this industry under influence of the Internet era are also discussed.

Introduction and motivation

Entertainment industry has always been devoted to human basic needs since ancient times. The Nine Muses of the Greek Mythology have given an inspiration to artists, philosophers and individuals for creation. This culture has accompanied humans on their journeys through life. The people themselves have created cultural trends and established businesses to supply demand on culture and economy. Therefore cultural products have acted as a means for giving a cultural voice to people – consumers (Cebula, 2013). The XVth century gave a dramatic improvement for a literature on earlier printing methods by Gutenberg because of the Bible which become the best selling item of all time. Even the emergence of innovations by Thomas Edison and Lumiere brothers in phonographic and motion picture industry of XIXth century or videogames in XXth century did not change it. Thus, the books market is still the biggest part of entertainment industry of XXIth century.

In the digital era, computational and statistical methods dedicated to digital trace of human participation in culture (e.g. Big Data) via distant reading (Jarynowski, Buda, Paradowski, 2019), (Moretti, 2013) are more and more popular. The biggest element of the global entertainment industry belongs to books (value estimated ~143 billion US dollars) because books are still able to involved in formal education at school or after school in adult life.

Fig. 1 The rise of novels between 18th and 20th century (Source: (Moretti,2013).

The domination of books has been developed traditionally in the past, and is still unscathed, despite the Internet era. However, the number of novels in each country increased in different periods (Fig. 1). The stability of domination in books sales is often based on books series (e.g. Harry Potter or The Lord Of The Rings, etc.) that may serve as inspiration for directors creating movies.

Fig. 2. Remakes as a part of the US motion picture industry (Source:

The motion picture industry is worth at least 43 billion US dollars according to the latest annual reports (2018). However, on the Internet era, the contribution of remakes (including prequels, sequels, etc. (Loocks & Verevis, 2012)) in the total number of movies decreases (Fig. 2, ). On the last 120 years of Hollywood movies history, it is possible to detect over 6k movies in total, including 1,7k original films and 4,3k remakes. Then a movie or books series are the main products traded on these markets with their own fan base.
On the other hand, in music industry, artists could be considered as a product traded in phonographic market because they all are signed to record companies. Their subsequent albums may be compared to remakes in motion picture industry and books or video games series (Fig. 3)
In music industry, the role of film director or book author may be played by record producers who initially were a sound engineers only. However, digital technologies had impact on the art of creating sounds and even diceased artists are able to record new music or put their holograms on well paid live-tours. Therefore record producers are as much important as directors in film industry or authors for books.
In book industry, we communication perspective between author via narratives and reader (Jarynowski, Boland, 2013) is very important.

Product Life-cicle

Relationship between agents in creative industry can be describerd by Actor-Network Theory (Latour, 2004). Such markets could be represented as a set of players (artists) managed by their companies – labels/studios/publishers, who sell products to customers. Sizes of the markets are limited and the creative items are characterized as luxury goods in economic sense. Companies and their artists are going to establish the optimal selling strategy. They can control many factors like release date, strenght of promotion and items quality. From the economical point of view, we define an artist or film series as a product. Empirical observations (Figure 3) show that album sales of an artist (product) reach maximum exactly in the first week of new item (album) release. Companies often sets album release dates (tuning interevents times and exact date) according to potential high sales, which is defined as an area under the sale curve (Fig.3, 4). Of course, companies are going to stop this decrease by promotionial events (in music industry singles can be released, in books authors meetings are useful, etc.). We observe symbiotic inference between various creative industries, mainly around books (as Harry Potter movie/book [Fig harry] and Witcher book/game [Fig wiedzmin]).

Fig. 3 A bunch of product life-cycles for the 30 most popular artists (2003-2013).
Source: Own graph

Fig. harry Life cycle of book sales together with film released. Source (The Nielson Company)

Fig. wiedzmin Google Tends of polish book/game: Witcher (Wiedźmin)
Source: Google Trends search

Creative industry revenues

Artists gets salary depending on the signed contract and companies (publisher/studio/label) make business on them. Success of the creative product can be measured in many ways such as critics opinion, chart position, popularity in media, etc. Monetary outcome is prioritized in this article, due to its quantitative character (even it’s bias as overrepresenting high-income populations).

Fig. 3rynki Evolution of 3 creative industries in revenues. Source: ()

Therefore the value of video games industry estimated as $108.9 billion consists of mobile gaming – $46.1 billion, smartphones – $35.3 billion, tablets – $10.8 billion, console gaming – $33.5 billion, digital content – $21.9 billion, physical sales – $11.4 billion and PC gaming – $29.3 billion. Despite these new technologies, books market (including e-books) is still the biggest one – $143 billion (Source: ) and music industry – $30 billion (including $15 billion because of physical records) and motion picture industry – $98 billion (including $27 billion from the global Box Office, DVDs & blue rays – $41 billion and TV copyrights – $17bilions) seem to be outnumbered. According to annual reports, the largest gaming markets of 2017 were in China – $36.3 billion,United States – $25.06 billion, Japan – $19.61 billion, and European Union – $19.558 billion (Source: ). On the contrary, the US and European markets dominate in music industry (Fig. 7).

Fig. Muz According to the IFPI more than 95% of the total revenue of music in 2003 was derived from the 30 major countries in the proportion shown above, organized by geographic location: Source (Buda, Jarynowski. 2013)

Fig lit. Books sales major markets (countries), Source: Statista

Fig kin. Cinena tickets sales major markets (countries), Source:


In history of the time, culture evolved (Batist, 2011). New genres come to live, merged, died. Fashion, trends were dynamic (Cebula, 2013). We claim, that device and technology drives revolutional transition in culture (Buda, Jarynowski, 2015b), (Jara-Figueroa, et al., 2019).
In Music industry it is reasonable to distinguish eras (because of the technology):

  • analog (-1987),
  • digital (1988-2003)
  • Internet (2004-)
    In Movie industry:
  • classic, silence and sounded (- 1950)
  • TV (1950-1970)
  • VHS (1970-2000)
  • DVD (2000-2010)
  • Streaming (2010-)
    In books industry:
  • Gutenbergian, printing (-1910)
  • massive education – reading (1910-1950)
  • competition with visual messages/arts (1950-2000)
  • e-books (2000-)
    In gaming industry:
  • in-home games (-1990)
  • coffee shop gaming (1990-2005)
  • Multi-player Internet/Multi-sense games (2005-2010)
  • Mobile games (2010-)
    These 4 industries could be divided in general in 3 Eras:
  • pre digital; with a dominant role of broadcasting technology and physical supply chain of device;
  • digital; with digital mean of devices and shortened transporting time (Schneider, et al. 2011)
  • post digital; with streaming technologies and on demand content

In entertainment/culture consumption models, we need to consider individualistic consumption (more specific) and tribal consumption (more fashion driven) (Castells, 2011), (Cebula, 2013). In post digital era, for example attending, cinema or concert – social facts are both declining, while video games and streaming on device (individual action) are growing.

There problem of piracy has interfaced selling distributions unequal according to countries industries and given products. Digitalization of devices and Internet sharing of resources gave an opportunity for piracy. Current approach of creative companies as cloud storing (e.g., Amazon kindle), streaming technologies (e.g. Netflix), or external licence management (e.g. Google Play) decreases piracy size. Let consider China case. This country is leading in term of videgames sells (with ~30% of global share) and second in books (~10%) and movies (~15%) markets. However, China almost does not exist on phonographic market (Less than 1% of global share). Cultural difference cannot explain such a difference, so music industry is the most vunerable for piracy

Current time series of album sales in music (as well as in other creative industries) differ from classic product life-cycles (Stark, 2004) because album sales usually reach their maximum in the first week after premieres [Fig 3]. However, historical time series are similar to standard life-cycle (Rogers, 1965) due to gaining popularity via information diffusion by physical devices (Buda, Jarynowski, 2015b). There are, moreover, symptoms of sales increase one week before the peak because of pre-orders in the Internet era (the same effect can be seen for Harry Potter movie/book [Fig. Harry]. From the marketing (Thomas, 2006) point of view [Fig 3], on the Internet era (2003-2013), the global phonographic market is over-represented by innovators, early adopters and early majority (Rogers, 1965). Other participants (including customers that are laggards or late majority) are not entirely affected (their seasonal impact may be explained well by stochastic models (Jarynowski, Buda, 2013])). Moreover, an observation of seasonality of items sale (increase of album release late autumn and early winter) is universal [Fig 4,4] (Chrismas “madness”). Moreover, the relative peak of empirical sale during Christmas time is one order of magnitude higher than in the model. It means that customers wallets approach is crucial to understand that phenomena (after Christmas and New Year Eve people might have less money for such a luxurious good like a creative items).

Fig.4 Monthly global video games sales [in US Dollars$] between 2013 and 2018 Source .

Fig. seson Weekly global albums sales [millions of copies] between 2003 and 2013
Source: own graph

Interevent time is defined as a time between the release of a new item (it could be a new record of an artist, new book in series etc). In general it is increasing with time. We have analyzed 30 most popular artists album sales trajectories that depend on intervals between consecutive albums premieres (Fig. 9) and found out 2 characteristic time intervals: 1 and 2 years.

Fig. album The distribution of intervals (in months) between consecutive albums premieres obtained for the 30 most popular artists defined in (Jarynowski, Buda, 2013) and Fig. 3. Source: Own graph

Analogies between books, movies, music and video games creative markets

Creative industries are characterized by some common properties:

  • Creative market as a predictable system – in complexity and in particular for a record/movie/book/game;
  • Creative industry might be considered as a programmable system – agents as record, studios, editors optimaze profits ;
  • Even unpredictable popularity spread by the Internet do not break the equillibrium (Jarynowski, Buda, 2013) on the market (for example virals as Gangman style in music or Farmville in games);
  • The system might be unstable in case of artists death only for music and book industry;
  • There is a strong seasonality, there are fans that buy records/DVDs/books/games every month and occasional clients who buy items just before Christmas;
  • There is a decreasing trend in selling physical devices of record/movie/book/game which characterize the creative markets all over the world and an increasing trend in streaming or digital copies (itunes, lastFM, Netflix, Kindle store, google play, etc);
  • The trajectory of items sales has a pick on therelease day and decreases exponentially [Fig. 3] with some additional peaks caused by promotion including tours, author meetings, competition etc;
  • In the past, the peak of item sales has appeared a few weeks after the release, and sales have decreased slowly, but currently the peaks of item sales appear in the first week after the release;
  • Popularity spreads both via cultural and geographical paths;
Fig. netThe network of the 30 most popular artists according to labels (evolution, importance) edges defined by belonging to the same label according to consecutive albums between 2003 and 2019. Source: Own graph

These predictable results obtained for music industry might be extended to other data sets. For instance, for the last 120 years of Hollywood movies history, over 6000 films with the corresponding remaking formats (ca. 1700 original films) and ca. 4300 films of various remaking formats) were collected (Locok& Verevis, 2012). The distribution of intervals between subsequent remakes seems to be multimdal probably like in the music industry (Fig. album). Moreover, the number production of remakes by studios increases since the beginning of 20th Century and collapses in the year 2005. It means that the Internet era has forced some studios to integrate with others or be eliminated for good. Thus, the number of remakes decreased significantly after 2005 (Fig. 2??). The same process takes places in the music industry when small labels become a part of major labels. Moreover, music and the motion picture industry has the same participants (Universal, Warner, Columbia, etc.). Therefore, since the beginning of the 21th century, the number of major labels has decreased to those four. On the contrary, the value of video games market increases year by year since the early ’80s.

Tab. 1 Analogies between the four main parts of the global entertainment industry

Books (B) Films (F) Music (M) Video games (G)
series remakes artists series
author director producer producer
publisher studio label studio
Product life-time,
agents: predigit

very many pubs

many studios
2 years
many labs

few studios
Product life-time

many pubs

few studios
1 year
many labs

many studios
Product life-time

very many pubs (selfpublishing)

few studios
1.5 year
few labs

few studios
Inference- predigit FBBB
Inference- postdigit VVVB

On the other hand, according to annual reports, books are still the greatest and the most valuable part of entertainment industry. On the Internet era, number of book publishers increases, but the number of distributors decreases. Number of record labels remains constant, but number of distributors decreases. Number of film studios (and connections between studios creating different remakes) increases till 1990’s but in the Internet era (2005) it collapses. In Post-Digital Age (called Internet in music) small companies (labels) are forced to merge or look for non-record related new sources of revenue (Galuszka, Wyrzykowska, 2016).


Such analogies within the most profitable 4 parts of the global entertainment industry may define networks represented in universal way and detect the importance of the Internet era in evolution from historical and economic point of view. In our research, we decided to show the quantitative analyses for record Industry and selected results or analogies with other parts of entertainment industry. Such quantitative and distance reading approaches promise to provide deep insights on the dynamics of entertainment industry and even to develop predictive models for e.g. revenues.

Moreover, all these parts may interact with each other because of overlapping fanbase. For example, Lara Croft is the most successful human videogame heroine according to Guiness Book of Records because she has extended her ‚activity’ from all Tomb Raider videogame series to comics, novels, television, films and sountracks albums (featuring famous names like Graeme Revell or Alan Silvestri). On the other hand, The Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter series, with their origin in books, have become interactive and universal too. Star Wars movies have inspired a lots of people to fill the gaps between consecutive series by creating books and videogames that have been later authorized by George Lucas. Even the Beatles fans may have occasion to participate in creating new version of classic songs because of XBOX or jam together with other musicians online. Despite blurred boundaries, the economy behind all the main branches of entertainment industry remains invariant because our imagination has no limits. Therefore analogies between main branches of entertainment industry may be detected and unified as multilayer network elements.


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