US Passes 75 Million Paid Music Streaming Subscriptions

March 12, 2021

This article is included in these additional categories:

Cross-Media & Traditional | Industries | Media & Entertainment | Radio

RIAA US Paid Music Streaming Subscriptions 2016 2020 Mar2021Streaming’s growth is not letting up. In 2020 streaming accounted for 83% of the $12.2 billion in total US recorded music industry revenues. Indeed, on the back of 13.4% year-over-year growth, streaming music revenues reached $10.1 billion in 2020 as paid subscriptions continued to expand, per the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) year-end revenue report [pdf].

Streaming, which includes premium paid subscription services such as Spotify Premium, Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited, as well as ad-supported on-demand services and streaming radio, has accounted for the majority share of total music industry revenue since 2016 and shows no sign of letting up.

In 2020, paid music subscriptions in the US reached an average of 75.5 million. That’s an impressive jump from 60.4 million in 2019 and 46.9 million in 2018.

Although pre-pandemic research from Nielsen found that more than half (53%) of streaming audio listeners were opting to use free, ad-supported streaming audio services, RIAA reports that ad revenue growth from these services was slowed by the pandemic. The growth of 16.8%, resulting in $1.2 billion in revenues, is significantly less than the average growth rate of 30% seen in the 3 years prior.

Digital and customized radio revenues rose to $1.2 billion last year, up 3.9% from 2019. This is after revenues dipped 4.3% year-over-year in 2019.

And, while streaming and digital radio continue to grow, revenues from physical music products continue to decline, albeit slowly. Accounting for 9% of total industry revenues in 2020, physical format recorded music brought in $1.1 billion. This is a less than 1% decrease over 2019.

A half-year report from RIAA found that for the first time since the mid-’80s, vinyl sales were higher than sales of CDs. The year-end results confirm this, with revenues from vinyl growing 28.7% over 2019 to reach $626 million. In other words, even during the pandemic, consumers were eager to buy vinyl.

Meanwhile, revenues from CD totaled $483 million, down 23% year-over-year.

The full report can be downloaded here.


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