Music streaming revenue overtakes digital downloads for the first time

The music industry gained more revenue last year from music streaming services than it did from digital downloads - an industry first.

According to a new report from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), revenue from streaming came to 34.3% of total revenue, narrowly tipping digital downloads at 34%. Sales of physical copies are still decreasing, bringing in only 28.8% of revenue last year.

In cold hard numbers, that's $2.4million from streaming and $2.3million from permanent downloads. Income from streaming, in fact, exceeded $2billion for the first time. More than half of it came from paid subscriptions, which totalled a huge $1.2billion - double that of two years ago.

Last year, streaming only brought in 27% of total revenue to the industry - and five years ago it was just 7%.

Part of that is likely because of the higher range of streaming platforms we've got available for us. 'Streaming' in the report counts as paid subscription services like Spotify, and ad-supported platforms like YouTube.

What it all amounts to is a 0.9% revenue increase for the industry. Interestingly, that's not just driven by streaming subscribers - hipsters are on the case too. Vinyl sales came to $416million, beating revenue from ad-supported streaming ($385million). Whether that difference is due to a love of analogue sound or pathetically low income from ad-supported streams, of course, isn't clear.

The report only applies to the USA, but since that's where most major worldwide record labels reside, we can assume it's fairly representative.

Source: RIAA

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