Streaming made up 79% of US music revenue in 2019

Smartphone displaying Apple Music

Updated on December 10, 2021

Music industry group the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) has released its annual revenue report. As is the case over the past several years, everything’s clearly in the favor of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. In 2019, US music industry revenues were at $11.1 billion, up 13% over 2018. As of 2019, almost 80% of said revenue comes from various streaming services.

More information is shown in the infographic below.

Music industry revenue 1980-2019
Infographic by Statista (CC BY-ND)

Streaming and digital download services

Streaming services have gone from 5% of US music industry revenue in 2009 to 79% in 2019. At this point, the dominant music “format” is pretty much Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and the like. Nearly all of the rise in streaming service revenue came from paid subscriptions.

Such services’ rise is likely tied to the also-meteoric rise in smartphone ownership over the past decade. Paying $10 a month for access to thousands of songs across most genres is also probably perceived as a better deal than buying a single CD or digital album at $10-$15 (or more).

Meanwhile, revenue from paid digital downloads has greatly declined from its mid-aughts highs. Purchases from iTunes, Amazon Music, and the like are now at 8% of US music revenue.

As The Verge notes, at this point the main streaming discussion’s around what extra services they offer. There’s the current trend of Spotify, Apple Music, etc. expanding into exclusive podcasts, for instance. There’s also the usual perennial discussion of how much of a share of revenue artists should get.

Physical media

On the physical side, such media made up 10% of sales in 2019, down from 12% last year. There isn’t much more to be said here, besides that CD sales continue to plummet. Like last year, CDs are at their lowest sales levels since the mid-80s. That’s also the last time before the 2010s that vinyl had any significant presence (aside from record collectors or night club DJs).

Photo by freestocks dot org (Flickr / CC0 public domain / cropped from original)


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Anthony Dean

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

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