The RIAA have released their 2019 year-end report for recorded music revenues in the United States. One of the biggest and main takeaways from the report is just how dominant streaming has become for the music business. It is often said, but this report really drives that point home.
Total revenues from streaming music grew 19.9% to $8.8 billion in 2019, accounting for 79.5% of all recorded music revenues. The streaming market alone in 2019 was larger than the entire U.S. recorded music market just 2 years ago in 2017.
A good sign is that more people are subscribing to streaming services and that is driving the rise in revenue. Total 2019 subscription revenues of $6.8 billion were up 25% versus the prior year, and accounted for 61% of total recorded music revenues in the U.S. 93% of growth in streaming revenue came from subscriptions.
According to the report, there are now 60 million paid subscribers in the United States. It isn’t clear how many are tied into family plans or at reduced prices for subscriptions like student plans. 1.5 trillion songs were streamed (many more than once obviously).
Digital downloads continue their decline, down 18% to $856 million in 2019. This is the first time since 2006 that revenues from downloaded tracks and albums fell below $1 billion.
Revenues from physical products in 2019 were down less than one percentage point year-over-year at $1.15 billion. A decline of 12% in revenues from CDs to $615 million offset a 19% increase to $504 million of revenues from vinyl records. This represents the largest revenue from vinyl since 1988, and 14 years in a row of growth for vinyl albums, but the category only represents 4.5% of total revenues.
The question musicians seem to ask is where does all the money go? The tech companies and a myriad of middlemen like distributor, publishers, labels and other companies are capturing a lot of the money before it reaches the artist. And more importantly, the inequality that pervades the world today is found in music where a few artists are making huge money and rest fight over the scraps. It seems as though streaming and vinyl are the two main areas of growth for everyone.
Read the full report here.