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.”