Digital Streaming Services Reigned King in the Music Industry in 2018


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has released their annual report on revenue generated by recorded music in the U.S. for the year 2018, and the data is beautiful.

Revenue for the U.S. music industry has maintained its trending growth over the past couple of years with an overall increase to $9.8 billion, compared to the $8.8 billion generated in 2017. In the same fashion, wholesale revenue grew from $5.9 billion in 2017 to $6.6 billion in 2018.

As most of us probably speculated, digital subscription services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Prime have grown an astonishing amount over 2017, with an ending total of 50.2 million subscribers, an increase of 14.9 million from 2017. On average, more than one million new subscriptions were added on a monthly basis. With the advent and ease of subscription services, permanent digital downloads of albums and individual tracks saw a decrease of a whopping 25% compared to last year, accounting for $1.15 billion of total income for the year, only 11% of overall revenue.

Physical sales saw an overall decrease of 23%. At estimated retail value (vs wholesale prices), CDs fell 34% to $698 million. This marks the first time revenues from CDs have totaled less than $1 billion since 1986. On the other hand, vinyl sales continue rising, with a total increase of 8% over last year to their highest level since 1988. Overall, vinyl made up more than one-third of revenues from physical formats.

The overall trend is that the music industry is on the rise, especially with the growth of subscription services and the ease at which consumers can now be exposed to new music. Physical sales have maintained their downward trend, and with the exception of vinyl records, we can expect that to continue in 2019.

You can read the full RIAA report here.

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