In first, streaming the top money maker in US

March 22, 2016
Streaming accounted for 34.3 percent of overall revenue in the world's largest music market, narrowly edging out permanent digit
Streaming accounted for 34.3 percent of overall revenue in the world's largest music market, narrowly edging out permanent digital downloads on platforms such as iTunes

Streaming has become for the first time the top money-maker for the US recorded music business, but it has struggled to offset falling CD sales and downloads, industry data showed Tuesday.

Releasing its 2015 figures, the Recording Industry Association of America said that streaming grossed more than $2 billion led by rising subscriptions for services such as Spotify.

Amid the emergence last year of new players such as Apple Music and Tidal, revenue from paid subscriptions to streaming services—which offer unlimited, on-demand listening—grew by more than 50 percent.

Streaming accounted for 34.3 percent of overall revenue in the world's largest music market, narrowly edging out permanent digital downloads on platforms such as iTunes.

But despite streaming's rapid growth, the 's overall revenue last year went up a mere 0.9 percent to $7 billion.

CD sales and slipped with revenue from albums on CD, long a staple of the industry, down 17 percent in revenue.

The recording association, while praising the new source of growth from streaming, said that the revenue setup from the sector was not keeping pace.

The industry group, without explicitly condemning companies, clearly was pointing the finger at YouTube and the free tier of Spotify, which make money through advertising.

"We, and so many of our music community brethren, feel that some technology giants have been enriching themselves at the expense of the people who actually create the music," association president Cary Sherman said in an essay on the annual figures.

"We call this the 'value grab'— because some companies take advantage of outdated, market-distorting government rules and regulations to either pay below fair-market rates, or avoid paying for that music altogether," he said, also renewing longtime criticism of US rules under which radio stations do not need to pay artists.

One major bright spot was vinyl, whose sales went up by nearly a third amid a resurgence of interest by hardcore collectors, reaching a level last seen in 1988 before the rise of CDs.

While vinyl remains relatively niche, the format has been picking up and was worth more than a quarter of the value of CD albums last year.

The $416 million generated by vinyl accounted for more than all the brought in by billions of advertisement-supported free streams.

The music industry has not yet released global figures for 2015.

Streaming has risen at different paces, making rapid strides in Nordic countries, while Japan and Germany—the world's second and third largest markets—remain strongholds of CDs.

Explore further: Streaming revenue edges out CDs in US

Related Stories

Streaming revenue edges out CDs in US

March 19, 2015

Streaming has topped CD sales in revenue for the first time in the United States as music listeners flock to on-demand services and Internet radio, industry figures showed.

Digital song downloads slipped further in first half of year

September 21, 2015

Digital downloads of songs continued to fall out of favor with Americans in the first half of the year, while free and paid music-streaming revenue kept growing, even without much of a bump from the launch of Apple Music.

French music-streaming service Deezer plans IPO

September 22, 2015

French music-streaming service Deezer said Tuesday it plans to launch an initial public offering on the Paris stock exchange by year's end aiming to consolidate its position in the online music market.

Recommended for you

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

December 7, 2016

Just months after two Swiss pilots completed a historic round-the-world trip in a Sun-powered plane, another Swiss adventurer on Wednesday unveiled a solar plane aimed at reaching the stratosphere.

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

Wall-jumping robot is most vertically agile ever built

December 6, 2016

Roboticists at UC Berkeley have designed a small robot that can leap into the air and then spring off a wall, or perform multiple vertical jumps in a row, resulting in the highest robotic vertical jumping agility ever recorded. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.