Streaming Music Contributed 75% of Total U.S. Music Industry Revenues for 2018

Streaming music services like Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, and others are continuing to grow in popularity and in 2018, were responsible for 75 percent of total U.S. music industry revenues, according to a new year-end music industry report released today by the RIAA. [PDF]

Revenue from streaming platforms grew 30 percent year over year and hit $7.4 billion. Total music industry revenue for 2018 was at $9.8 billion, up from $8.8 billion in 2017 and $7.6 billion in 2016.


Digital downloads from storefronts like iTunes made up 11 percent of total revenue in 2018, and physical sales of records and CDs made up 12 percent. Digital downloads fell for the sixth consecutive year and were eclipsed by physical sales, which were also down, with the exception of vinyl record sales (up 8%).

Paid on-demand subscription services like Apple Music were responsible for much of the music industry's revenue growth, with ad-supported services and customized radio services making up a smaller portion of the growth.


Overall subscription revenues increased a total of 32 percent from 2017 to 2018, totaling $5.4 billion, thanks to 42 percent growth in the average number of paid subscriptions.

The RIAA does not break down revenue by subscription music service, but at last count, Apple Music had 50 million paying subscribers, while Spotify had 87 million.



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12 weeks ago
Oh wow. A decade ago this would have been unthinkable. Even 5 years ago.

Yes, we’ll inevitably have the comments about “I like to keep my music local”, and whilst I’m the same, these numbers don’t lie.

When I was younger, the only way to listen to an album at home was to buy it or to pirate it — and that’s if you had a modem connection which could download your 64kbps WMA, or if the Limewire share was the actual song.

Streaming is the currently the best of both those worlds, and whilst it’s not perfect, it’s a great choice to have.
Rating: 13 Votes
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12 weeks ago

Amazing. After 30 minutes nobody has thought up anything they can argue about related to this article.


I can always see it the other way...

That's $7.4 Billion thrown away by music consumers. In the past, we'd buy an LP or CD and own it forever. Over the years if we were enthusiasts, we'd have hundreds of "Albums" we owned forever.

Now with renting streaming music, after a year of listening to music, you own nothing. Zero. And after 5 years, spending all that money on monthly subscriptions, you'd still own nothing.
Renting music via streaming may be convenient and worthwhile in the short run, but in the long run it's definitely a loser. No wonder  is so excited about it.
Rating: 11 Votes
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12 weeks ago
I’m blown away by 75% streaming. I never thought it would be that high. Holy smokes.
Rating: 7 Votes
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12 weeks ago
In 2019, I have begun a commitment to owning digital media. So far this has meant digitalizing all of my CD collection, and purchasing with iTunes. Apple Music, to me, is a way to get full song previews (and to be able to access albums that I would not otherwise buy). After realizing that the Disney vault still exists digitally (i.e. currently no Aladdin / Cinderella / etc. available), I have been swiftly beefing up my iTunes Movie / TV Show collections as well. Of course keeping local downloads for everything.

Streaming is great...until it isn't (price increases, increasingly fragmented libraries, availability changes frequently, quality control of titles, etc.)

My fear is that in the future rights holders will only offer via streaming - essentially eliminating any option to purchase/own outright.
Rating: 7 Votes
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12 weeks ago
Amazing. After 30 minutes nobody has thought up anything they can argue about related to this article.
Rating: 7 Votes
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12 weeks ago
Pay per month, not per song. This is one of the most honest tagline from Apple.

Sure there’s certain pride for collecting physical music. At some point I did it myself. But I’ve been dissapointed way too many times. Bought a CD album only for 2 or 3 songs I like (the rest is filler garbage). There’s also dirty tricks like double dipping with enhanced, collector edition that comes much later with bonus exclusives I might love, so I'd have to buy the entire album, again? What a waste of money.

On the other side, you can also never purchase or own your internet, netflix, utilities or cable tv, you can only rent them each month. Doing the same for music isn’t exactly the end of the world. It is already a familiar concept.

I’d rather listen to millions songs I rent, instead of playing 1000 songs I purchased, over and over.

As a bonus, no more double dip duplicates or garbage fillers. Any collector edition albums will also be available to stream.
Rating: 6 Votes
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12 weeks ago

The unfortunate side effect of streaming is that artists are forced to "play to the middle" - trying to create hits that appeal to a broad base and attract plays (since an individual play is near worthless). Amazing singer-songwriters slip through the cracks in this day-and-age. It seems it is happening with movies as well now with the "Netflixication" of the film industry.

Isn't this the same sentiment espoused by every previous generation? Talented singer-songwriters always slip through the cracks... always have, always will. Somebody we think undeserving is going to be a star... it's always been that way. Artists make their money touring. Labels get the money, the artists get hosed. I could go on forever, but you get my point. There's really nothing new under the sun.
Rating: 6 Votes
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12 weeks ago
All of you streaming cheerleaders don't see the very big downsides of the streaming model because they haven't really happened... yet.

With the help of Apple and Spotify (and the other "distributors") the media industries are luring you into a model where eventually what/when/how/where/if and for how much you can consume media is entirely at their whim. You're handing over the keys to the castle in the name of immediate convenience, and one day you're going to wake up on a cot sleeping outside the castle.

You're also putting all of your eggs in one giant basket that's suspended by a single gossamer thread (the internet) which is neither as reliable nor as pervasive or guaranteed as we'd all like it to be or think it is.

Streamers, you have been warned. ;)
Rating: 5 Votes
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12 weeks ago

I've heard that from others, too. I've spent way too much time cultivating my music collection.


I’m in the same camp. I own so much music that streaming isn’t such a great value.
Rating: 4 Votes
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12 weeks ago

I can always see it the other way...

That's $7.4 Billion thrown away by music consumers. In the past, we'd buy an LP or CD and own it forever. Over the years if we were enthusiasts, we'd have hundreds of "Albums" we owned forever.

Now with renting streaming music, after a year of listening to music, you own nothing. Zero. And after 5 years, spending all that money on monthly subscriptions, you'd still own nothing.
Renting music via streaming may be convenient and worthwhile in the short run, but in the long run it's definitely a loser. No wonder  is so excited about it.


Streaming isn't about owning, it's about listening...listening when you want to whoever you want. It's about convenience. Using your purchase model, if people had to go buy an entire CD to get the couple of good songs they want for EVERY song or artist they stream today, everyone would be broke and their homes littered with CD's, many of which they would never listen to again.

$15/mo ($180/yr) for a family to listen to whatever, whenever isn't that much. It's actually the cost of ONE CD. 12 CD's a year. If I had to only buy CD's to hear all the music I currently stream, I'd be sad as most CD's had only a few good songs and rest were always skipped over.
Rating: 4 Votes
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