U.S. music revenue surges as streaming subscriptions soar

Jem Aswad for Variety:

Revenues are up 18% to $5.4 billion and streaming accounts for 80% of that revenue, according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s mid-year report released today. Paid streaming services added more than 1 million new subscriptions a month, pushing the U.S. total past 60 million. The trends continue the double-digit growth the industry has seen since 2016. At wholesale value, revenues rose 16% to $3.5 billion.

Streaming revenues have soared from $1.7 billion in the first half of 2016 to $4.3 billion in the same period this year. The biggest driver in that increase has been the rapid growth in paid subscriptions. Paid subscriptions have risen from 9.1 million in the first half of 2016, to 20.5 million the following year, to 46.9 million last year and 61.1 million in the first half of 2019.

Of the remaining 20% of music industry revenues, 9% each went to physical product and digital downloads, and 2% to synch.

MacDailyNews Take: Early this year, Apple Music overtook Spotify in the U.S., the world’s biggest music market, with 28 million subscribers in the U.S. as of February, versus Spotify’s 26 million.

In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that, “Apple Music is growing faster globally — at a rate of about 2.4% to 2.8%, compared with Spotify’s 2% to 2.3% — and the gap is starting to close in other markets outside the U.S., according to the people familiar with the numbers.

The Mid-Year 2019 RIAA Music Revenues Report is here.


  1. Sad state of affairs as streaming is garbage. I’m part of the problem but sad to see streaming revenues increase. Music industry deserves to be screwed. For years we had to buy an artist garbage of 10 songs on one CD when only one was worth purchasing. I much preferred the iTunes model of pay for what you want at a more reasonable price. I’ll very much miss iTunes

  2. In reality having the ability to access the whole library is more compelling than owning specific songs. That’s assuming you are willing to pay $120 per year for the privilege.

  3. Remember the days when you could turn on your FM radio and listen to music for free with the only drawback being commercials and news breaks? In the not too near future, you will have to pay to listen to music in between commercials and news breaks.

    I will NEVER pay a monthly fee to listen to music.

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