Jesus Ascension by Waiting For The Word modified and used under CC BY license 2.0
For a long time we were told it was all going to collapse. Streaming was just a liquidation sale, a concession to keep people from outright looting. But after nearly two decades in decline, the music industry is showing its strongest growth since the late '90s — thanks, it seems, to subscription-based streaming services.
The Recording Industry Association of America released its 2016 mid-year report on Tuesday, and for once, officially, the sky is not falling. From this time last year, the market's total estimated value has grown 8.1% to 3.4 billion USD. It's on pace to record growth two years in a row, something that hasn't happened since CD sales peaked in 1998 and 1999.
Digital revenue accounts for more than three-quarters of the industry's total revenue. We know that download sales are way down (so are physical sales, which make up less than 20% of the market). That's all offset, however, by an explosion in money paid out by streamers like Spotify, Apple Music, and TIDAL, up an insane 57% from this time last year to $1.61 billion. That's right, streaming payouts now make up nearly half of the U.S. recording industry's total revenue.
Over the year, paid on-demand services fully doubled the total subscriber count to 18.3 million users. And since more subscribers means more money, it follows that that segment also doubled its take, generating $1.013 billion. And better still, according to Billboard's analysis, per-stream revenue has increased too. Excluding the publishing royalty, the average payout per play is now $0.005786 USD, just over half an American penny.
Canadian stats are expected to follow shortly.