May 22, 2018 / 10:02 AM

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Streaming Lifts US Music Industry Revenues Despite Falling Sales

 

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The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has released its 2016 mid-year report. The overall numbers are up thanks to streaming, but that is largely offset by the continued decline in physical sales and digital downloads.

Overall revenue was up 8.1 percent during the first half of 2016. The overall market is now worth 3.43 billion, up from $3.17 billion in the first half of 2015.

The increase in revenues is buoyed by digital streaming, which grew 16.2 percent from the same time last year from $2.228 billion to $2.658 billion. Paid subscriptions is where this saw the most growth, with subscribers doubling from $9.1 million to $18.3 million from the middle of 2015. Paid subscriptions more than doubled their revenue as well, generating $1.013 billion over the first half of 2016, compared to $478.6 million in 2015.

Ad-supported streaming increased as well, but not as much. It rose 23.6 percent to $195.4 million.

Overall streaming now accounts for 47 percent of all RIAA music industry revenues.

The massive growth in streaming has not slowed the decline in downloads and physical sales. Physical CD sales are down 16.4 percent from $531 million to $443.9 million. Digital downloads for albums are down 11.4 percent from $564.7 million to an even $500.1 million. Digital single downloads are down in total 22.1 percent from 554.5 million to 432 million. Their revenues are down 21.9 percent from $665.2 million to $519.5 million

People are still tracking the physical sales of music videos and ringtones. Yes those are down over 20 percent as well.

One has to wonder with sales declining precipitously over the past several years, when it might eventually bottom out? Will there ever be a point when owning music is no longer considered vital to the experience and everything is stored in a cloud or streamed through a service? There has to be a threshold where music ownership is still valued by some, but the decline in sales does not seem like it will stop anytime soon.

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