The vinyl boom doesn’t show any signs of going away.
In 2014, for the first time, LP and EP sales revenue ($315 million) topped the revenue generated by music played on free, ad-supported streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify’s basic platform ($295 million). Last year, that trend accelerated; vinyl sales, according to the RIAA, surpassed $416 million, while revenue from ad-supported streaming rose to $385 million. Note that both revenue streams rose.
The real significance here, though, lies in a comparison of the number of physical vinyl records sold versus the number of streams on ad-supported services. Just 17 million records sold generated more revenue than the hundreds of billions of songs people streamed online in 2015.
“We, and so many of our music community brethren, feel that some technology giants have been enriching themselves at the expense of the people who actually create the music,” wrote CEO and Chairman Cary Sherman. That category doesn’t just encompass the artists—labels, producers, engineers and everyone else who works on the process of distributing recorded music is seeing a disproportionate amount of the ad revenue their songs generate go toward the services themselves. With numbers such as these backing it up, the music industry looks poised to fight for its just rewards.
Other numbers of note from the RIAA’s summary of 2015 revenues:
- No matter what Kanye says, the CD is not dead; CDs generated an industry-leading $1.52 billion. But they are in the process of dying; that’s a 17% decrease from 2014’s numbers.
- Paid subscription services demonstrated, by far, the most notable growth, up 52.3% from 2014 sales figures to more than $1.2 billion in 2015. They’ve surpassed digital downloads of albums, but not of singles, though both of those streams declined last year.
- The overall revenue figure for the recorded music industry (which, mind you, doesn’t include publishing royalties or live concert sales) hit $7 billion in 2015, a very slight growth from the previous year.
You can check out the full RIAA report here, but the bottom line is this: the most efficient way to support the music industry is to buy physical copies of music, and it seems like that mentality continues to grow—at least among vinyl fans in particular.
(RIAA report: https://medium.com/@RIAA/state-of-the-music-business-what-the-numbers-tell-us-63ce1524b30#.rrsprdpmy RIAA )