Music streaming subscriptions surpass 80 million amid streaming boom, RIAA reports show


Top line

The music industry is rebounding in 2021, with increased revenues from CD and vinyl sales – which were hit in 2020 by forced store closings due to the pandemic – and an increase in streaming, which has become the main source of income for artists and record labels amid the coronavirus pandemic.


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Industry Trade Group reported U.S. music retail revenues grew 27% in the first half of 2021 to $ 7.1 billion, from $ 5.6 billion last year.

The majority of music revenue over the past year has come from streaming (84%), followed by physical CD and vinyl sales (10%), digital downloads (5%), and rights licensing. music author (2%).

Paid subscriptions to platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, which pay music rights holders a percentage based on the number of streams, led the revenue growth, accounting for nearly two-thirds of total revenue ($ 4.6 billion). dollars) with over 80 million paid subscriptions recorded for the first time.

With concerts, tours and live events canceled, rescheduled, or set at limited capacity throughout 2020-2021, there is a growing need for artists to rely on streaming apps like Spotify or popular social media apps like TIC Tac for income.

CD and vinyl sales grew from $ 393 billion last year to $ 690 billion, with vinyl sales leading the increase in revenue, nearly doubling from $ 241 million to $ 467 million and surpassing CD sales for the second year in a row.

RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier also noted that new platforms such as “short videos, fitness apps, and chat and social media apps” that allow music are developing, and homes record companies are working to “make sure these growing services pay for the music they depend on.”

Key context

The RIAA said the coronavirus continued to affect music industry revenues with tour cancellations and store closings throughout the pandemic. The music industry is slowly recovering from drop in income numbers last year, which saw ad revenue growth decline on platforms like YouTube and Spotify by around 14%. CD and vinyl sales were also hit in early 2020 due to forced store closings at the start of the pandemic, with revenues totaling $ 1.1 billion, slightly lower than in previous years. Digital download revenues decreased by 18% in 2020 compared to the previous year, continuing a downward trend year on year. Apple Music recently revealed in a letter obtained by the The Wall Street Journal, it pays music rights holders one-third to half a cent per stream, while Initiated find Spotify pays between $ 0.003 and $ 0.005 per stream. As other sources of revenue are affected by the pandemic and streaming popularity grows, the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers called for music streaming services to pay more per streaming for music rights holders.

Further reading

RIAA revenue figures show music fans turned to vinyl during the pandemic (Forbes)

New RIAA figures show CDs are all dead and downloads are on Life Support (Forbes)

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