50 million US consumers paid for streaming music last year, RIAA says

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The latest report from the Recording Industry Association of America shows consumer interest in premium streaming music subscriptions is on the rise.

Numbers can be deceiving. When asked to discuss their growth, streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music will often quote their global user statistics instead of those related to a specific country or continent. That isn’t necessarily wrong by any means, but it can lead consumers and investors alike to perceive a company’s standing in a different light.

In January, Spotify announced it now welcomed over 200 million users every month. That figure, which refers to the platform’s total global user count, included 96 million paying premium subscribers. No further details were given related to where paying subscriptions came from, nor has any similar information been provided to the media since.

A new report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has shed a bit more light on the streaming market. According to the study, 50 million US consumers paid for streaming music services in 2018. Use of such platforms rose 33% over 2017’s numbers, and it’s likely to grow further still in 2019.

“Tremendous output from the artist community fueled a historic milestone of 50 million subscriptions to music services, which in turn helped drive U.S. music’s third consecutive year of double-digit growth,” RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier said in a statement.

“Rejuvenation in the industry means more opportunities to find and break new artists for fans to enjoy,” Glazier said.

Additional data found in the report reveals that 75% of music industry revenue now comes from various forms of streaming. Physical sales of vinyl records continued to increase, up 8% to $419 million, the highest level since 1988.

Unfortunately, other forms of physical media were not as successful. Revenue from CD sales are down almost 34%, to $698 million; music video sales fell more than 28%, to $28 million; and sales of “other physical media,” including cassette tapes, was off nearly 22%, to $9.6 million.

Total music revenue for 2018 totaled just under $10 billion — a significant recovery from the low of $6.7 billion in both 2014 and 2015 — but the industry is only back to a level close to what it was in 2007 when the total was $10.7 billion.

The RIAA did not comment on how the rising popularity of streaming services is impacting the lives of artists. The most popular performers have reported big earning from Spotify and the like, but many smaller and mid-size artists have found it harder to rely on recorded music to pay their bills.

Regardless, it appears the streaming boom will continue for the foreseeable future. Follow HaulixDaily on Facebook and Twitter for more industry news and insight.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.