Music streaming revenue tops physical media sales for the first time

Spotify on smartphone

Updated on December 10, 2021

Music industry association the RIAA has released its mid-2015 music sales statistics. For the first time, sales of streaming media services (like Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, etc.) have surpassed those of all physical media (CDs and vinyl). While streaming media sales have already topped CD sales, this year’s seen a particularly big surge in streaming media sales. Streaming revenue’s jumped 23% for the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014, while revenue from digital downloads has dropped by 4% on a similar time scale.

Here’s an infographic outlining the state of everything as of mid-2015. Next year should see full statistics for all of 2015, of course.

Infographic: Music Streaming Revenues Surpass Physical Format Sales | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

A pie chart version of the above data (from the RIAA study):

Sales pie chart


2011 saw sales from digital downloads overtake physical media for the first time, thus making 2011 the year CDs could be deemed “obsolete,” I suppose. Since 2011, while digital downloads have declined slightly, it’s physical media that streaming’s heavily hurt. I imagine it won’t be long before streaming tops digital downloads as the largest share of all music sales, though I’m not sure if or when streaming will be greater than 50% of all music sales period. The vinyl record craze has probably just delayed streaming from overtaking physical media even sooner than it did. Either way, the here-and-now (and future) for music’s clearly digital media of some form, not in physical formats.

Image by tomasi from Pixabay


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Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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