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US recorded music trade revenues grew by 11% in 2019


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It appears to be the day for new figures on the US music market. Industry body the RIAA published its year-end numbers for 2019 last night, revealing that recorded music’s retail value grew by 13% to $11.1bn last year.

Meanwhile its wholesale value – the earnings for labels – grew by 11% to $7.3bn. Within the retail figure, streaming grew by 19.9% to $8.8bn, accounting for 79.5% of all recorded music revenues.

“The streaming market alone in 2019 was larger than the entire U.S. recorded music market just 2 years ago in 2017,” noted the RIAA’s report.

Paid subscription revenues grew by 25% to $6.8bn – 61% of total revenues – with the US averaging 60.4m paid subscriptions, up from 46.9m in 2018. The latter figures do not include ‘limited-tier’ services like Amazon Prime and Pandora Plus, nor (we’ve checked this with the RIAA) do they include non-paying members of family plans – these are ‘subscriptions’ rather than ‘subscribers’.

On-demand ad-supported streaming services saw their revenues grow by 20% to $908m last year in the US, with more than 100 million listeners streaming more than 500bn songs.

Also of note: CD sales declined by 12% to $615m, while vinyl sales grew by 19% to $504m. Vinyl may only be 4.5% of total revenues in the US, but there’s a very real prospect that it will have overtaken CD sales when the stats for 2020 are released this time next year.

One less positive question sparked by the report though: US streaming revenues grew by 43% in 2017, by 30.1% in 2018, and now by 19.9% in 2019. If that deceleration continues, streaming growth could be single-digit in 2020.

Stuart Dredge

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