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Streaming Now Accounts for 80 Percent of the Music Industry’s Overall Revenue

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: People walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the morning that the music streaming service Spotify begins trading shares at the NYSE on April 3, 2018 in New York City. Trading under the symbol SPOT, the Swedish company's losses grew to 1.235 billion euros ($1.507 billion) last year, its largest ever. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Most music fans likely understand that streaming is changing music consumption. Gone are the days when CDs, cassettes, vinyl records, and even digital downloads were meaningful indicators of industry-wide consumer habits, with streaming services like Spotify now among the most profitable ventures in the music industry. But according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s mid-year report released today, the record industry is starting to benefit from that growth as well, as the Wall Street Journal points out.

The report notes that revenue made by labels via streaming has grown 26 percent in the first half of 2019, and now accounts for $4.3 billion overall. Viewed in the context of the American music industry as a whole, streaming now accounts for a whopping 80 percent of all revenue generated in the industry, followed by 9 percent of revenue generated from digital downloads, 9 percent generated from the sale of physical media, and 2 percent generated through movie, TV, and advertising use via sync royalties.

While streaming revenue number represents both ad-supported and subscription-based listening, the RIAA also says paid subscriptions have grown by 31 percent this year, now accounting for 62 percent of the American industry’s total revenue.

At the same time, physical media have also seen seen renewed growth after years of declining sales. Vinyl sales are up 5 percent this year, generating $224 million in revenue this year so far, while CDs sales have grown 5 percent, now accounting for $485 million in 2019.

“Music continues to be a key driver of Internet culture, and engagement around music and artists powers much of the popularity of many social media and technology platforms,” RIAA president and CEO Mitch Glazier shared in a statement. “On social media, musicians are among the most-followed users worldwide. Labels have worked for years to build powerful new tools, infrastructure, and teams to help artists navigate the global streaming ecosystem and protect and promote their work.”

Still, artists are often only paid fractions of cents per digital stream, leaving many pining for the old days of reliable physical media sales. Spotify’s rates currently sit between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream, depending on the amount of premium listeners, while YouTube and Apple Music pay $0.00074 and $0.0064 per stream, respectively.

Read the RIAA’s full mid-year report here.