The RIAA has published its mid-year figures for the US recorded-music market, revealing a 0.8% rise in wholesale (trade) revenues in the first half of 2015, but a 0.5% decline in its retail value.
The industry body is talking up the positives, including 23% growth in streaming revenues to $1.03bn, accounting for 33% of total revenues. Within that, SoundExchange distributions were up 20% to $387m in the first half of 2015; paid streaming subscriptions were up 25% to $478m; and on-demand ad-supported streaming income rose 27% to $163m.
There’s a but. According to the RIAA, the average number of paying subscribers for streaming services in the US rose just 2.5% from 7.9m people in the first half of 2014, to 8.1m in the first half of 2015.
That’s a big drop from the 43.6% growth between the first half of 2013 and the first half of 2014, when the number of paid subscriptions rose from 5.5m to 7.9m. The RIAA did not explain the slowdown, bar noting in its report that “the launch of Apple Music only occurred on the last day of the period”.
We’re wondering whether the sale of mobile subscription service Muve Music to Deezer in January was a major factor here. At its peak in 2013, Cricket Wireless’ service had 2m subscribers getting Muve bundled in to their monthly phone tariffs. After it was bought by Deezer, they had to start paying $6 a month as an extra charge on their bills.
If the majority of them did not convert, that might explain the slow overall growth in streaming subscribers. Come January, the RIAA’s full-year figures for 2015 will give us more clues about growth elsewhere in the market – as well as the early conversions performance of Apple Music.
More stats? Physical music sales were down 17% to $748m in the first half of 2015; download sales fell 4% to $1.3bn; and sync royalties rose 4% to $95m. Digital music accounted for 72% of US (recorded) music industry revenues in the six-month period, with physical taking a 24% share, synchronisation 3% and ringtones/ringbacks 1%.
“The data continues to reflect the story of a business undergoing an enormous transition,” said RIAA boss Cary Sherman. “There are many positive signs: continuing the trend from 2014, wholesale revenues for the first half of 2015 increased. And revenues from streaming music services continue to grow at a healthy double digit rate.”