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US music industry body the RIAA has published its annual mid-year figures, tracking the size of the country’s recorded-music market.

They show that the retail value grew by 9.3% year-on-year to $8.35bn in the first half of 2023, while the wholesale value – the portion paid through to music rightsholders – grew by 8.3% to $5.3bn.

The RIAA noted that the $8.35bn was an “all-time first half high”. Just as notable, however, is the fact that the growth is accelerating: the 9.3% growth for retail revenues compares to 9.1% in the first half of 2022, while the wholesale growth was 8% in that period.

Focusing on the new retail figures, the RIAA said that streaming accounted for $7.02bn – 84% of the total, and up 10.3% year-on-year.

This included $5.5bn from paid subscription services, up 11% year-on-year. The RIAA made a point of saying this compared to 6% growth in the number of accounts (subscriptions) – that averaged 95.8m in the first half of this year.

That’s a pointer to the impact of subscription price rises from a number of the major services, although some – Spotify’s for example – came just after the end of this period.

The RIAA’s figures also showed near-flat growth for ad-supported on-demand music services, with their revenues up just 0.6% to $870.1m. That reflects ongoing choppy waters for the advertising market.

Meanwhile, ‘digital and customised radio’ revenues were up 16% to $657m. That includes the royalties collected by SoundExchange from services like SiriusXM and internet radio stations.

Finally, music downloads revenues were down 12% to $224.8m, but physical revenues grew by 5% to $881.8m. Vinyl is now a whopping 72% of this category, although vinyl sales only grew by 1.3% to $632.4m in this period.

“This report describes a thriving, growing music ecosystem that continues to reach new heights and shape our culture,” said RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier.

His optimism is no surprise. Retail-value growth of 9.3% in the first half of 2023 compares to 6.1% in the full year of 2022, which (alongside other industry figures from around the world) had sparked a new round of debate about when streaming will hit its growth ceiling.

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