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US recorded-music business grew by 18% in first half of 2019


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Pop the champagne corks! Well, if you’re one of Music Ally’s American readers reading this story at the start of your working day, perhaps leave that until… whatever time won’t get you sacked for too-early-in-the-day boozing. But yes: celebrations, because the latest mid-year figures for the US recorded-music market are out from the RIAA, and they look very positive.

The topline: more double-digit growth, with retail (consumer-spending) revenues of $5.4bn for the first half of 2019, up 18% year-on-year, while on a wholesale (trade) basis, they grew by 16% to $3.5bn. Within the retail figures, streaming revenues grew by 26% to $4.3bn, and thus now account for 80% of the overall market. Within that, paid-subscription revenues grew by 31% to $3.3bn – 62% of the overall total – with the US averaging 61.1m paid music subscriptions in the first six months of 2019. That’s year-on-year growth of 30.3%.

Other trends were as expected. Download sales declined by 18% to $462m, including a 16% drop in single-track sales and a 23% fall in digital-album sales. Net revenues from physical sales actually grew by 5% to $485m – note, that means they’ve overtaken digital sales revenues – although the RIAA admitted that “this growth was the result of a reduction in physical product returns, and on a gross basis the revenues from physical product would have been down for the period”.

(More tipping points that people wouldn’t have seen coming a decade ago: vinyl album revenues in the US were $224.1m in the first half of this year. That means they’ve just overtaken download-album sales ($205.6m), and are on course to overtake CD sales ($247.9m) in the near future too.)

No surprise to see RIAA boss Mitch Glazier hailing streaming’s continued impact. “The streaming economy continues to accelerate, strengthen, and mature,” he wrote in a blog post. “Our mid-year report tells a great story and highlights how the music industry’s embrace of new platforms and technologies has fuelled a huge amount of growth and excitement.”

Stuart Dredge

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