Music Industry

Published on April 6th, 2017 | by Alan Cross

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It’s Now Official: Music Streaming Is Too Big to Fail

Streaming is now making more money than we ever saw with downloads. This is from Music Business Worldwide.

It’s a scenario Steve Jobs thought would never materialize.

Streaming platforms in the US market are now generating more annual cash from music than digital download services like iTunes ever did.

According to RIAA data analyzed by Music Business Worldwide, the peak of download retail sales in the US market (inclusive of ringtones, music videos, ‘kiosk’ and other digital sales) came in 2012, when they topped $3bn at $3.02bn.

As previously reported, streaming platforms generated significantly more than this ($3.93bn) in 2016, thanks to a 68% year-on-year rise in revenues.

It’s important to note that this $3.93bn figure includes $884m of payouts from SoundExchange, for streaming plays of records on ‘lean-back’ digital radio services such as Pandora and SiriusXM.

Even without SoundExchange, US music subscription streaming revenues reached $2.48bn in 2016 (including $220m from ‘limited tier’ services like Amazon Prime Music and Pandora’s $4.99-a-month Plus platform).

In addition, ad-funded streaming platforms such as YouTube, Vevo and Spotify’s free tier generated $469m in the US last year – resulting in total an on-demand streaming tally (ie. not including SoundExchange) of $2.95bn.

That’s actually bigger than the total revenues from albums and singles sales on the likes of iTunes in 2012 – the year of download’s apex – which jointly reached $2.83bn.

Like it or not, streaming is the future–and the future is now. Read the full MBW article here.

Infographic: Music Streaming is Now 'Too Big to Fail' | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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