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U.S. Music Industry Posts Third Straight Year of Double-Digit Growth as Streaming Soars 30%

The U.S. music industry posted its third consecutive year of double-digit growth, according to the RIAA’s year-end revenue report issued today.

The report notes that in 2018 U.S. recorded-music revenues rose 12% to their highest level in 10 years — $9.8 billion, up from $8.8 billion the previous year but still below 2007’s $10.7 billion. This was largely due to the boost in paid music subscriptions, which rose 42% to 50.2 million from 35.3 million the previous year (and 10.8 million in 2015), while streaming revenues soared 30% to $7.4 billion from $5.7 billion in 2017 (and $2.3 billion in 2015).

Total subscription revenues increased 32% to $5.4 billion, the report says. That figure includes $747 million in revenues from “limited tier” paid subscriptions (i.e. ones without full mobile or on-demand access, such as Amazon Prime and Pandora Plus).

Streaming revenues accounted for 75% of the total U.S. industry revenue, with physical accounting for 12%, digital downloads for 11% and synch for 3%.

“Fifty million subscriptions illustrate fans’ unrivaled love for music and the way it shapes our identities and culture — and showcases an industry that has embraced the future and found a healthy path forward in the digital economy,” said Mitch Glazer, the RIAA’s new chairman/CEO, in a blog post. But he also notes, “Make no mistake, many challenges continue to confront our community. As noteworthy as it is for the business to approach $10 billion in revenues again, that only returns U.S. music to its 2007 levels. Stream-ripping, and a lack of accountability for many Big Tech companies that drive down the value of music, remain serious threats as the industry strives for additional growth.”

Indeed, how long this double-digit growth will continue remains to be seen. But as Glazer notes, “As our report illustrates, there are reasons to be excited for today and eager for tomorrow.”

Read the full report here.

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