Paid Music Service Subscriptions Are Now A $10B Market in the US

May 5, 2023

This article is included in these additional categories:

Customer-Centric | Digital | Industries | Media & Entertainment | Spending Trends

US recorded music industry revenues inched up last year to $15.9 billion from $15 billion in 2021, according to a report [pdf] from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Virtually all of that increase owed to a rise in revenues from streaming music, which grew from $12.4 billion to $13.3 billion.

Within that total, revenue from paid subscription services increased by 8% year-over-year to reach $10.2 billion, the first time surpassing the $10 billion mark. In so doing, paid subscriptions accounted for 77% of streaming music revenues, and almost two-thirds of all recorded industry revenues.

Paid music streaming services in 2022 gained another 8 million subscriptions over the previous year to reach 92 million, a year-over-year increase of 9.5%. The number of subscriptions has almost doubled in the past 5 years, from 46.9 million in 2018, although growth has slowed somewhat over the past couple of years. Nonetheless, adults ages 16-64 around the world are spending an increasing amount of time streaming music as opposed to listening to broadcast radio, per recent research.

Within the streaming category, revenue growth was faster for limited tier subscriptions (defined as “services limited by factors such as mobile access, catalog availability, product features, or device restrictions), which grew by 18% to $1.1 billion. Revenues from ad-supported on-demand services climbed at a slower pace of 6%, to $1.8 billion. These services accounted for 11% of total recorded music industry revenues for the year.

Streaming Contributes 84% of Recorded Music Revenues; Digital Downloads Continue to Fall

Last year, streaming accounted for a full 84% of all US recorded music revenues, which was up slightly from 83% in 2021. Physical (11%), digital downloads (3%) and synchronization royalties (2%) contributed the remaining share of recorded music revenues, with digital downloads’ revenue share falling by a point. Indeed, revenues from digital downloads fell by 20% to just $495 million. A decade earlier, in 2012, digital downloads accounted for a peak of 43% of music industry revenues.

Physical Continues Rebound

Last year, the RIAA noted that 2021 was the first time in 25 years that both CDs and vinyl records experienced revenue growth. In 2022, however, revenues from CDs fell by 18% to $485 million. However, a new milestone was reached: for the first time in 35 years (since 1987) more vinyl albums were sold than CDs in units (41 million versus 33 million). As for vinyl, sales grew for the 16th consecutive year, up 4% to $1.2 billion, comprising 71% of physical format revenues.

About the Data: The number of paid streaming subscriptions does not include limited tier services (paid subscriptions for services limited by factors such as mobile access, catalog availability, product features, or device restrictions) and counts multi-user plans as a single subscription.


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