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Happy Days – US Music Growth The Most In 20 Years

Music sales growthIn record label executive offices across the U.S. there’s rejoicing as the latest RIAA numbers show a double digit increase in revenue for the first time in almost 20 years. The latest figures show that the recorded music market in 2016 brought in $7.7 billion, up a bit more 11% over the previous year. And guess what? Despite what the many naysayers had predicted, the growth is all because of streaming.

Streaming contributed $3.9 billion to the total revenue in 2016, which was up 69% from the year before. And get this – it now makes up 51% of the recorded music business, which is the first time it’s crossed that mark in the U.S. There’s even more good news though. There were 431.74 billion (with a B) streams counted by Nielsen Music (which includes video and audio on-demand streams), and the average per-stream rate went up to $0.0072. To put that number in perspective, that number last year was $0.00517, and in 2014 it was $0.00666.

One of the downsides of the streaming numbers is that fact that YouTube no longer reports all of its streams to Nielsen Music. Last year it began to report streaming data on artists whose music has over 1,000 views a day. That means that a lot of the streaming data is going unreported, something that’s bound to bring about some gnashing of teeth in label board rooms.

As you would expect, CD sales are now rapidly declining to the point where just 99.4 million full-length CDs were sold in the United States. Although that was worth $1.2 billion, which is nothing to sneeze at, it still marked the first time since 1986 that fewer than 100 million were sold. Top that off with the fact that downloads were down 22% last year to $1.8 billion, and you can see that it’s a good thing that streaming has picked up the slack.

The numbers show that the vinyl fad looks like it has peaked though, as sales revenue grew just 3.5% to around $430 million, based on a 1.8% growth of unit sales to 17.2 million. To put that into perspective, vinyl growth averaged 38 percent a year from 2012 through 2015, according to Nielsen Music numbers.

So overall, the music business is now picking up steam in the right direction. Hopefully the growth trend will continue.

The Official RIAA 2015 Statistics Are Out

CDs sold in 2015The RIAA has released its statistics for 2015 and, as always, there are some surprises. The things to remember about the RIAA is that it works for the record labels (especially the majors), so some stats you have to take with a grain of salt. Here are some of the more noteworthy data points.

  • There was a very slight increase in the recorded music part of the business, with revenues of just over $7 billion, for an increase of 0.09%
  • Streaming accounted for more revenue than any other income stream for the first time, accounting for 34.4% of income, while download sales made up 34%, physical sales were 28.8%, and synch were 2.9% of total revenue.
  • Paid subscription revenue increased 52.3% to $1.22 billion, compared to $800.1 million in 2014, while ad-supported streaming revenue increased 30.6 percent to $385.1 million. All very good news!
  • Revenue from CDs, vinyl and DVDs of albums and singles fell another 10.1 percent to $1.9 billion (although that was less than predicted). CDs fell to $1.521 billion from $1.83 billion the year before based on 123 million CDs that were sold last year, which was down from around 143 million in 2014.
  • Vinyl sales continued to soar, generating $423 million from 16.9 million album sales and roughly 500,000 singles, an increase of 31.8 percent.

Here’s the catch – the RIAA’s numbers reflect retail sales, which means that the above numbers don’t reflect how much the labels actually received for their music, although wholesale prices are from 65 to 70%.