US dollars money

The RIAA has released its official year-end figures for the US recorded music industry in 2021, and they show impressive growth.

The retail value of recorded music revenues grew by 23% last year to $15bn, while the wholesale (trade) value for labels grew by 22% to $9.8bn.

Streaming accounted for $12.4bn of the retail total, up by 24% year-on-year. This means streaming accounted for 83% of US recorded music market in 2021, only slightly up from 82.8% in 2020.

According to the RIAA, there were 84m paid on-demand music subscriptions in the US in 2021, although this is an average across the year rather than a year-end figure.

With 2020’s equivalent figure being 75.5m, this means around 8.5m streaming subscriptions were added in 2021 in the US – a figure that does not include ‘limited-tier’ subscriptions like Prime Music or Pandora Plus, and which counts each family plan as a single subscription.

Paid subscriptions generated $9.5bn of revenue in the US in 2021, up by 23% year-on-year. Meanwhile, ad-supported on-demand music revenues grew by 47% to $1.8bn.

There was also a startling increase in US physical music sales in 2021: up by 42.3% to $1.66bn, including a 61.2% rise in vinyl sales (to $1.04bn) and 20.9% growth in CD sales (to $584.2m).

Is this more a bounceback from the first Covid-19 impact than organic growth? Well, in 2020 physical revenues did fall in the US, but only by 0.5%.

That year also saw a tipping point where vinyl revenues overtook CD revenues, so 2021’s physical growth is driven partly by the fact that the fastest growing physical format (vinyl) now accounts for the majority of this segment, but clearly the CD bounceback played a big part too.

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